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Ritratto di Annie Jones

"Ritratto di Annie Jones" is copyright    1999 by James G. Mundie. All rights reserved.  Reproduction prohibited.

Pen and ink, 6 x 6.25 inches, 1999

Annie Jones had a long career in the sideshow. Even as a little girl she had quite a respectable beard and was billed as The Infant Esau. During this time, the famed Civil War photographer Matthew Brady took her portrait.

Victorian audiences were particularly fascinated with bearded women because their unusual masculine attribute challenged traditional ideas of gender. Many visitors refused to believe these were actually women (although it should be noted that in some cases a 'bearded lady' was actually a man in drag). Promoters such as Barnum occasionally went so far as to challenge patrons in court, thereby gaining more publicity for their exhibits.

Annie was certainly a woman, and a rather fetching woman at that, even with the whiskers. Apart from her beard, she was the very ideal of Victorian womanhood. As an emblem of feminine beauty, it seemed fitting to me that Annie should be depicted as one of those archetypal beauties from a Pre-Raphaelite painting.

One of Annie's carte de visite photographs may be seen here.

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All Images and Text James G. Mundie 2003 - 2018