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Nellie McCormick Flagg (1866–1923)

Object Name: Portrait
Date: ca. 1906
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Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: Unframed: 60 1/4 × 42 in. (153 × 106.7 cm) Framed: 69 5/8 × 51 3/4 × 2 1/4 in. (176.8 × 131.4 × 5.7 cm)
Credit Line: Gift of Arnold Scaasi and Parker Ladd
Object Number: 2001.1
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A wealthy St. Louis socialite, Nellie McCormick was the first wife of illustrator and portraitist James Montgomery Flagg. Nellie played a vital role in Flagg's early career, supporting him financially and introducing him to high society. Flagg painted many portraits of his beautiful wife, creating his signature "Flagg girls" after her image. He offered this description of Nellie and his ideal of female beauty: "She should be tall, with wide shoulders; a face as symmetrical as a Greek vase; thick, wavy hair…thick, long lashes; straight nose tipped up a bit at the end; her eyes so full of feminine allure that your heart skips a beat when you gaze into them. But physical beauty is not enough. To be really beautiful a woman must have certain fundamental qualities of spirit-serenity, courage, humor and passion."


"In Focus: Portrait and Small Paintings from the Society's Collections," New-York Historical Society, January 9, 2001–March 24, 2002.

"A Celebration of Women," New-York Historical Society, March 16–May 17, 2004.

"Beauty, Talent and Power: Portraits of Women at the New-York Historical Society," New-York Historical Society, March 21–June 5, 2005.

"Beauty's Legacy: Gilded Age Portraits in America," New-York Historical Society, September 27, 2013–March 09, 2014; Flagler Museum, Palm Beach, FL, January 26–April 17, 2016; Driehaus Museum, Chicago, IL, September 8, 2018–January 6, 2019.