Collections | Reforms and Social Changes | Women [37 Objects]

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The Artist Girl and Her Studio

19th century

Sabancı University, Sakıp Sabancı Museum

Istanbul, Turkey

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 Justification for this item

It was difficult for women to access certain artistic professions both in Europe and in the Arab and Ottoman world. In the late 19th century, women slowly began to come into their own in the world of painters, sculptors and writers.

The Artist Girl and Her Studio

19th century

Sabancı University, Sakıp Sabancı Museum

Istanbul, Turkey

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Armenian Girl

1841

The British Museum

London, United Kingdom

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 Justification for this item

This Armenian girl from Bursa (Turkey) was painted by the British painter John Frederick Lewis. The European public often became “acquainted” with the lives of Middle Eastern women through such works, filtering reality through the eye and tastes of the artists.

Armenian Girl

1841

The British Museum

London, United Kingdom

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The Governess

1844 (painted) 1845 (exhibited)

Victoria and Albert Museum

London, United Kingdom

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 Justification for this item

In the 19th century UK, women’s work was often an economic necessity, but could also promise autonomy, financial independence and self-realisation. Governesses were among those often able to improve their lot, a fact echoed in European literature, perhaps most famously in a masterpiece of English literature, Charlotte Brontë’s novel Jane Eyre (1847).

The Governess

1844 (painted) 1845 (exhibited)

Victoria and Albert Museum

London, United Kingdom

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Souvenirs d’Egypte; Femme Fellah

1851 (published)

Victoria and Albert Museum

London, United Kingdom

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 Justification for this item

Artist travellers to the Orient brought back numerous sketches of peoples’ lives, often to be transformed later into impressive paintings. Works like this one tried to give an account of costumes, scenes of life and women’s work as seen through the European artists’ gaze. Such depictions were not always sympathetic or indeed accurate.

Souvenirs d’Egypte; Femme Fellah

1851 (published)

Victoria and Albert Museum

London, United Kingdom

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Souvenirs d’Egypte; Femme Fellah du Caire

1851 (published)

Victoria and Albert Museum

London, United Kingdom

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 Justification for this item

Artist travellers to the Orient brought back numerous sketches of peoples’ lives, often to be transformed later into impressive paintings. Works like this one tried to give an account of costumes, scenes of life and women’s work as seen through the European artists’ gaze. Such depictions were not always sympathetic or indeed accurate.

Souvenirs d’Egypte; Femme Fellah du Caire

1851 (published)

Victoria and Albert Museum

London, United Kingdom

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School of North African girls directed by Mme Luce. Studying

1856–1857

National Library of France

Paris, France

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 Justification for this item

The French government hesitated over ruling on education for young Muslim girls, which was a delicate subject. Consequently, the first related initiative was a private one, and the teaching provided was essentially professional in nature.

L'École de la Rue du Pacha (inside the classroom)

1861

Institut Supérieur d’Histoire Contemporaine de la Tunisie

Tunis, Tunisia

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L'École de la Rue du Pacha (inside the classroom)

1861

Institut Supérieur d’Histoire Contemporaine de la Tunisie

Tunis, Tunisia

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Women grinding corn in Sinai

1869

Victoria and Albert Museum

London, United Kingdom

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 Justification for this item

Western travellers in the Arab and Ottoman world often sought out scenes of daily life involving women. The way Europeans imagined the position of women in Arab and Ottoman society, deduced not least from the way they dressed, was fed by often fanciful, romanticised and inaccurate accounts from travellers or the photographs they brought back.

Women grinding corn in Sinai

1869

Victoria and Albert Museum

London, United Kingdom

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A petition to collect signatures in support of an appeal to the Italian parliament to grant women the right to vote, drawn up by Anna Maria Mozzoni

1877

State Library of Modern and Contemporary History

Rome, Italy

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 Justification for this item

In Europe, women’s access to political life ignited impassioned debates throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. The right to vote was one of the major battles in the fight for male/female equality.

Portrait of Labiba Geahchan

Late 19th century – early 20th century

'Zahrat al-Ihsan School ('The Flower of Beneficence' School)

Beirut , Lebanon

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 Justification for this item

In the 19th century the debate about women’s role in society and their education developed in both Europe and the Arab and Ottoman world. This portrait of a founder of Zahrat al-Ihsan School, Beirut, reminds us of the increasingly public role prominent women throughout the Middle East played from the 19th century onwards. The charitable school provided education for disadvantaged girls.

Portrait of Labiba Geahchan

Late 19th century – early 20th century

'Zahrat al-Ihsan School ('The Flower of Beneficence' School)

Beirut , Lebanon

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Portait of Emilie Sursuq

Late 19th century – early 20th century

Zahrat al-Ihsan School ('The Flower of Beneficence' School)

Beirut , Lebanon

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 Justification for this item

In the 19th century the debate about women’s role in society and their education developed in both Europe and the Arab and Ottoman world. This portrait of a founder of Zahral al-Ihsan School, Beirut, reminds us of the increasingly public role prominent women throughout the Middle East played from the 19th century onwards. The charitable school provided education for disadvantaged girls.

Portait of Emilie Sursuq

Late 19th century – early 20th century

Zahrat al-Ihsan School ('The Flower of Beneficence' School)

Beirut , Lebanon

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Turkish woman

1890-1895

National Library of France

Paris, France

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 Justification for this item

Western travellers in the Arab and Ottoman world often sought out scenes of daily life involving women. The way Europeans imagined the position of women in Arab and Ottoman society, deduced not least from the way they dressed, was fed by often fanciful, romanticised and inaccurate accounts from travellers or the photographs they brought back.

Turkish woman

1890-1895

National Library of France

Paris, France

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Turkish woman

1890-1895

National Library of France

Paris, France

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 Justification for this item

Western travellers in the Arab and Ottoman world often sought out scenes of daily life involving women. The way Europeans imagined the position of women in Arab and Ottoman society, deduced not least from the way they dressed, was fed by often fanciful, romanticised and inaccurate accounts from travellers or the photographs they brought back.

Turkish woman

1890-1895

National Library of France

Paris, France

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Turkish women

1890-1895

National Library of France

Paris, France

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 Justification for this item

Western travellers in the Arab and Ottoman world often sought out scenes of daily life involving women. The way Europeans imagined the position of women in Arab and Ottoman society, deduced not least from the way they dressed, was fed by often fanciful, romanticised and inaccurate accounts from travellers or the photographs they brought back.

Turkish women

1890-1895

National Library of France

Paris, France

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Trips to Morocco. Oujda via Lalla Marnia. Hôtel Figari […] car service every day […] links to the Tlemcen stagecoach and trains to Western Algeria

1895

National Library of France

Paris, France

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 Justification for this item

Western travellers in the Arab and Ottoman world often sought out scenes of daily life involving women. The way Europeans imagined the position of women in Arab and Ottoman society, deduced not least from the way they dressed, was fed by often fanciful, romanticised and inaccurate accounts from travellers or the photographs they brought back.

Dreams

1896

National Gallery of Modern Art (GNAM)

Rome, Italy

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 Justification for this item

The right of European women to access the same literature as men in the 19th century was difficult to achieve. Reading was considered to be dangerous in some cases.

Dreams

1896

National Gallery of Modern Art (GNAM)

Rome, Italy

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Dress

Late 19th century – early 20th century

Jordan Museum for Costumes and Jewellery, Department of Antiquities

Amman, Jordan

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Dress

Late 19th century – early 20th century

Jordan Museum for Costumes and Jewellery, Department of Antiquities

Amman, Jordan

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Flag of the Female Workers Friendly Society (Società di mutuo soccorso femminile) of Cremona, bearing the motto “All for one and one for all”

Unknown (probably end of the 19th–beginning of the 20th century)

State Archives of Cremona

Cremona, Italy

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 Justification for this item

In Europe in the 19th and early 20th centuries, women gradually began to emerge from the domestic environment to obtain the same social rights as men.

Photograph

1898

Victoria and Albert Museum

London, United Kingdom

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 Justification for this item

Women were also demanding access to the same leisure and sports activities as men in 19th century Europe. Women quickly began using bicycles, first as a leisure activity for the wealthier classes, then as a means of transport for more modest people.

Photograph

1898

Victoria and Albert Museum

London, United Kingdom

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L'École de la Rue du Pacha (classrooom exit)

1907

Institut Supérieur d’Histoire Contemporaine de la Tunisie

La Manouba, Tunis, Tunisia

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 Justification for this item

Access to modern education was essential for women in the Arab and Ottoman world at the beginning of the 20th century. In countries such as Tunisia the struggle for independence enabled women to participate in political rallies from which they had previously been excluded.

L'École de la Rue du Pacha (classrooom exit)

1907

Institut Supérieur d’Histoire Contemporaine de la Tunisie

La Manouba, Tunis, Tunisia

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