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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 drawing, 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 famous Civil War photographer Matthew Brady took her portrait.

Victorian audiences seemed to have been 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 Phineas Taylor 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 hat, if one could look past the whiskers. Apart from her beard, she was the very ideal of Victorian womanhood. As an emblem of feminine beauty, it seemed fitting Annie should be depicted as one of those archetypal beauties from a Pre-Raphaelite painting.


[To see more drawings from this series, please visit the Prodigies website at missionCREEP.com]


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All Images and Text James G. Mundie 2005