The Little Women Exhibit: Three Centuries of Girls in the Art World

“Portrait of Phyllis Burne” by Lydia Amanda Brewster Sewell

“Portrait of Phyllis Burne” (1910) by Lydia Amanda Brewster Sewell (1859-1926). Oil on canvas.

It is said that little girls are made of “sugar and spice and everything nice,” but we all know there is much more that defines “girl power” in the 21st Century. From the mysterious to the mischievous, “The Little Woman Exhibit: Three Centuries of Girls in the Art World” is one of the largest exhibitions of original oil paintings, drawings, photography, and sculptures within The Michael Aaron Gallagher Collection.

Throughout the ages, girls have often been overlooked as a subject of study in the art world. Their place as quiet observers and supporting characters in the background has rarely been challenged in sculpture or on canvas. Yet, when an artist has focused on the power of a girl as a leading lady in a starring role, as in the 2017 bronze statue “Fearless Girl” by artist Kristen Visbal that faced “Charging Bull” on Wall Street, viewers have been given the opportunity to see them in a new light.

Portrait of a girl by Dewitt Clinton Peters

Portrait of a girl by artist Dewitt Clinton Peters (1854-1948).

Some of the artists whose masterful depictions of girls in the 19th and 20th centuries that have inspired the exhibit include, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Alexei Harlamoff, Damian Lechoszest, Mikhail and Inessa Garmash, and Norman Rockwell.

The Little Women Exhibit features stunning original works by world renowned, award-winning artists including Anthony Sidoni, Jorge Imana Garron, Juan Arroyo, and Igor Talwinski. It also features well-known American artists like Marybeth Otway.

What sets the exhibit apart is the extraordinary works of art on display. From “Alice in Wonderland” themed pieces to the art of Latin America, the paintings not only portray a moment in a girl’s life they also reflect the diversity of girls from across the globe.

In addition to the stunning portraits and figurative paintings on display, the portraits of girls by early American photographers is also exhibited in a variety of Victorian cabinet cards, postcards and black and white photographs spanning the 19th and 20th centuries.

Oil painting portrait of a girl with a bow in her hair

Portrait of a girl with a bow in her hair by an unknown artist. Oil painting on board. Circa early 20th Century.

The Little Women Exhibit began as a way to showcase paintings of girls from around the world, spanning from the 1800s-2000s. As the exhibit continues to evolve, there are several important criteria that each painting in the collection must achieve.

In order to be selected for the exhibit, there are three main criteria that the work must meet:

1. The piece must be an original work, an idea or depiction that is unique whether in style, color or composition.

2. The work must be compelling.

3. The work must tell a story or be able to aesthetically fit within the larger narrative of the exhibit.

Although the stature of an artist, the condition and value of the piece and other factors are also considered, it is most important that all paintings included in the collection achieve the highest possible standard of quality and artistry.

Is there a painting you feel should be included in the collection or in this exhibit? Email Michael Aaron Gallagher with your questions and comments.

To view more original works of art in The Michael Aaron Gallagher Collection click here. For information about works that have been donated to the collection click here.