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The Orange Blossom
The lady in the portrait holds a flowering sprig in her right hand. We ask Deborah Metsger, Assistant Curator of Botany at the Royal Ontario Museum to help us identify the plant as an orange blossom. We learn about where and how orange trees grew in the eighteenth century and the potential symbolism behind this botanical element in the portrait.
Race and Representation
Portrait of a Lady Holding an Orange Blossom was painted at the height of Trans-Atlantic Slavery. We speak with Charmaine A. Nelson, PhD, Canada Research Chair in Transatlantic Black Diasporic Art and Community Engagement at NSCAD University, about issues of race and representation in eighteenth-century portraiture.
One critical object is the sitter’s blue dress. We speak with two local experts on the history of dress, author Ingrid Mida, PhD, and Alexandra Palmer, PhD, Nora E. Vaughan Senior Curator, Global Fashion & Textiles, at the Royal Ontario Museum to help us understand when the painting was made and even offer insight into the life of the painting’s sitter.
Sophie Hackett in conversation with Maia Sutnik
2020 marks the 20th anniversary of the official founding of the Photography Department at the Art Gallery of Ontario. To celebrate, the AGO recorded a conversation between Sophie Hackett, the AGO’s Curator of Photography and Maia Sutnik, the first Curator of Photography at the AGO, discussing the gifts, purchases and exhibitions that led to the department as it exists today.
A deeper dive into our mystery painting
Curators Adam Levine and Monique Johnson discuss their process and the different questions they hope to answer as they peel back the layers Even though they're at home, the curators of the European Department are still hard at work learning more about their latest acquisition, Portrait of a Lady Holding an Orange Blossom. Listen to Adam Levine and Monique Johnson discuss their process, and they different questions they're asking about the mysterious portrait. An audio transcript is available in the YouTube link.
The painting as a physical object
Curator Adam Levine speaks with Maria Sullivan, the AGO Head of Conservation, to discuss the Portrait of a Lady Holding an Orange Blossom as a physical object and the different materials the artist used to create it. Maria tells us about how conservation science can help us understand how the painting was made and the life the painting has lived since its creation. The two discuss the artist’s signature and future plans to study the painting in the lab.