Professional Beauties of the Past

Professional Beauties of the Past . From English Society. Sketched by George du Maurier. Click on image to enlarge it.

Housekeeper (showing visitors over historic mansion). — “This is the portrait of Queen Catherine of Medici — sister to the Venus of that name. . .

In the days before the National Trust and the museum movement, which created public collections that anyone, even members over the laboring classes, could visit in order to see works of art, so-called respectable members of society could gain admittance to the great homes of the very wealthy. As several of du Maurier’s cartoons show, a butler or housekeeper would provide a guided tour of their employer’s paintings and sculpture. The cartoonist here takes advantage of the social distance and levels of education of the employers who collect the art and the employed who showed it to create some class-based humor. The Venus de Medici, of course, was a very famous ancient Greek statue owned by one of the Medicis and not a member this famous Italian Renaissance Family.

Looking at Works of Art

What Artists, Authors, and Performers and Their Families Have to Put Up With

Scanned image and text by George P. Landow [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the person who scanned the image and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]


English Society. Sketched by George du Maurier. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1897.

Created 1 July 2001

Last modified 28 April 2020