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Inhabiting Folk Portraits


  • Fruitlands Museum 102 Prospect Hill Road Harvard, MA, 01451 United States (map)

This exhibition showcases portraits from Fruitlands Museum’s remarkable collection of nineteenth-century middle-class portraiture, alongside paintings and writings by Candice Smith Corby. Smith Corby is an accomplished artist and educator who paints with traditional materials and draws inspiration from literature, familial and personal stories, dreams, memories, and “the pleasure of observing treasured objects.”

In addition to at least one painting in response to each portrait in the exhibition, Smith Corby will also contribute words that may take the form of letters and diary entries. Just outside of the main gallery, a dramatic, floor-to-ceiling red velvet curtain will lead to an interactive area where visitors of all ages, sizes, and genders may try on clothing or accessories like those seen in the portraits. The hats, shawls, lace collars, and other accessories provide the opportunity for visitors to try on and, as the title says, inhabit each portrait.

The portraits present subjects from childhood through old age, and a full range of visitors will have the opportunity to don a hat, cape, or lacy garment, look in a mirror or through a frame, and imagine themselves as one of the sitters on view.