As part of the Lockwood Mathews Mansion Museum's lecture series, "Defying Expectations: Independent American Women of the Early 1900s," Annette Blaugrund will present a lecture and book-signing on Wednesday, July 11, at 11 a.m. on the life of Harriet Hubbard Ayer at the museum.
The story of Ayer, the Victorian entrepreneur who triumphed over divorce, kidnapping, madness, seduction and betrayal, started in New York City, where by 1883, she had established Recamier Preparations Inc., the earliest cosmetic company owned and operated by a woman.
First with her creams and balms and then with her words about women's health and beauty, Ayer influenced several generations of women to look and feel good about themselves.
But as Blaugrund shares in her book and lecture, "Harriet Hubbard Ayer, Victorian Entrepreneur," a few jealous and vindictive men in her life punished her for her ambition, accomplishments and independence by attempting to steal her lucrative business and seize her children.
After she successfully sued them, they had her committed to an insane asylum. Indomitable, this former Chicago socialite reinvented herself as the highest paid newspaperwoman in the United States, editing the women's pages of Joseph Pulitzer's New York World.
Blaugrund has published and lectured widely on diverse subjects in American art and culture. She was the director of the National Academy Museum and School of Fine Arts. She also has worked at the Brooklyn Museum, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and the New York Historical Society.
She is an accomplished author of six books about American art and artists, and has also contributed to numerous other writings and articles. For her accomplishments, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy in 2008, and was named a Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government in 1992, among many other honors.
Currently, she teaches a mentoring class for Columbia art history graduate students.
"Harriet Hubbard Ayer, Victorian Entrepreneur," was released in spring of 2011. The lecture will be followed by a book-signing and luncheon. Admission is $30, $25 for members, and includes the lecture, a light lunch and a tour of the first floor of the mansion or a curatorial tour of the exhibit, "Epic Voyage: The Extraordinary Life of Helen Churchill Candee."
For lecture information and reservations, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 203-838-9799, ext. 4. RSVP by July 8.