Emmeline Pankhurst by Alice Morgan Wright

Date(s): 1912
Material: Plaster Maquette seated on a Wood Plinth

Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, Harriot Stanton Blatch, Inez Milholland, and many other women spent time in Britain where they learned from, and participated in, the militant wing of the suffrage movement. The Women’s Social and Political Union, founded by Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters Christabel and Sylvia, engaged in heckling, window smashing, and rock throwing to force the government to act on women’s rights. Paul and Burns, who were deeply involved in such actions, experienced prison sentences, hunger strikes, and force-feedings before they returned to America in 1912. Although the National Woman’s Party never fully adopted the British militancy, its policy of holding the political party in power responsible, and maintaining pressure on the government through public spectacle and intense lobbying, led to passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920.

This bust, sculpted by Alice Morgan Wright (1881-1975), depicts Emmeline Pankhurst.  Wright fought alongside the Pankhurst family in England and was imprisoned in Holloway Prison in 1912.  While there, she sculpted this bust of Pankhurst with smuggled art supplies.  It was later given to the National Woman’s Party by either Wright or her partner, Edith J. Goode (both NWP members).  A bronze cast of the bust resides in the collection of the Museum of the City of London.

The bust is a small plaster maquette with a coated surface (painted or lacquered) that sits on a wood plinth.  The inscriptions on the back include “Wright d x 3 9” and “1912”.  Thanks to funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the bust underwent conservation treatment in 2011.

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