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Mrs. Arthur Henry Paget (1853-1919)
Date: 1891
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Medium: Watercolor on ivory; silver gilt
Dimensions: Overall: 2 7/8 x 2 1/2 in. ( 7.3 x 6.4 cm )
Credit Line: Gift of the Estate of Peter Marié
Object Number: 1905.182
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Marks: inscribed on backing paper on rear of ivory: "Miss M. Stevens / Mrs. Arth. Paget / PAILLET / 23 Rue Clauzel / PARIS"

Gallery Label:

Mary Fiske Stevens was the eldest daughter of Paran and Marietta (Reed) Stevens of Boston. After the death of her husband in 1872, Marietta Stevens moved to New York City and became a leader of the glittering high society of the 1870s and 1880s. Educated in New York and Paris, Miss Mary Stevens was married in London in 1878 to a distinguished English soldier, General Sir Arthur Henry Fitzroy Paget (1851-1928), a brother of Lord Queensborough and close friend of King George V. Lady Paget was active in charity and relief work in England.

The subject is dressed as Cleopatra, the costume she wore to one of the Delmonico Balls in New York City. In mock ancient Egyptian costume, including a headdress in imitation of Egyptian pharaohs, she is posed against a background of palm trees, a river, and distant pyramids. Paillet painted the miniature portrait after a photograph by Jose Maria Mora (in the NYHS Library).