Here’s another photo of my Seven Years’ War lead soldiers and captives, which were a very cool recent birthday present. I’m considering using them on the cover of my next book–they’re much cooler, more ambigous, and more mysterious than the portrait of Esther Wheelwright that hangs in the Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS, for short). And, a portrait is what you would already expect in a biography cover, right? Esther commissioned a portrait shortly after she became Mother Superior, and then sent it to relatives in Massachusetts as a remembrance. According to the curator of paintings I consulted with at the MHS in 2001, Anne Bentley, the painting is probably singular in their collection because it’s a portrait of a woman that wasn’t commissioned by her father or husband. It’s pretty good for an amateur portrait–I wish I could show it to you, but I don’t yet have a digital copy, and the MHS doesn’t have all of their paintings on-line. It was likely painted by an artist in the convent, as the Ursulines were known for their artistic excellence in producing elaborately embroidered altarcloths and giltwork items for churches, as well as humbler embroidered objects for the tourist trade.
The MHS has done a wonderful job digitizing a bunch of other documents and images and organizing them into web displays. For example, you can find this most excellent bit of military intelligence there, along with other Seven Years’ War-era maps. Other rich web installations are African Americans and the End of Slavery in Massachusetts, and a featured “Object of the Month.”