Ruth Montgomery Collection
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John R. Chesebro
In the nineteenth century, middle class women developed strong bonds of friendship. With the development of industrialization, men’s work moved out of the home while women were encouraged to stay within it. Their role was to create a space that offered men a respite from the competition of the outside world. The new industries produced what once had been created by women, and so women now had the time to spend with each other as well as purchase those things which would define their world. With the separation of the male and females worlds, women came to have more in common with their female friends, perhaps, than they did with their husbands. Historians have documented the loving letters they wrote to one another. Mary and Blanch are wearing similar outfits. The ring suggests that Blanch is married. Note the landscape painting and the display of a shrine, of sorts, in the corner.