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NRF Celebrates #5WomenArtists

We’re continuing our celebration of Women’s History Month by participating in the National Museum of Women in the Arts’ #5WomenArtists challenge! The origination of this challenge came from the question, “Can you name five women artists?” When NMWA posed the question, they found that “people struggled and many could not at all—even those who consider themselves well versed in the arts.” The challenge sought to increase awareness for women in the arts by sharing their contributions through social media during the month of March.

Newport Restoration Foundation is honored to have several pieces created by women in our fine and decorative art collections. We’ve spotlighted five of these women artists here, and invite you to see them for yourself when our museums open this spring!

Madame Gres


Madame Gres (1903-1993) was one of the leading French couture designers of her generation. Gres was known for her superior use of fabric and materials to create dramatic gowns like this silk and ostrich feather dress, made for DorisDuke circa 1966. This dress was featured in 2019’s exhibition, Beyond Fortune: The Life & Legacy of Doris Duke.


Margarete Heymann


German, ca. 1928
Earthenware, glaze

This glazed ceramic bowl is a striking example of the work of German-Jewish ceramic artist Margarete Heymann (1899-1990), who was one of the first female students of the innovative Weimar Bauhaus. She was the co-founder of the Hael-Werkstätten workshop and created bold, modern designs.

While we are not sure what drew Doris to this particular bowl (it is one of the few examples of modern art at Rough Point), she placed it alongside other mementos that held particular sentimental significance and against the backdrop of her purple-infused bedroom.


Susan Nichols

Ca. 1818
Silk, glass, wood, gilt

Doris Duke found this piece in a New York auction house and brought it to Newport, where Susan Nichols once lived with her family on Washington Street. This example of needlepoint is representative of the work of many women in the period who documented their lives, showed off their skill, and created artwork that often became a treasured heirloom passed from mother to daughter. The piece is inscribed in gilt lettering “Wrought by Susan Nichols 1818.” and can be found at the Whitehorne House Museum.


Abigail Whitehorne

“Abbey Whitehorne’s Sampler Work in Her Tenth Year of Age”, 1804
Linen, cotton, glass, wood, gilt

This sampler, completed by Abigail Whitehorne (about 1794-1875, sister of Samuel Whitehorne, the original owner of Whitehorne House) in 1804 allowed her to sew her way into the historical record. Samplers like these were kept and displayed, and sometimes have found their way into archives and museum collections where they are studied to gain a better understanding of domestic life, the role of girls in the household, and education practices of the time. This piece can also be found in the collection of the Whitehorne House Museum..


Mary McFadden

Mary McFadden (American, born 1938) was known for her use of pleats similar to Italian designer Mariano Fortuny. Doris Duke had several McFadden designed pieces in her fashion collection. This circa 1984, turquoise belted caftan is on view in this year’s exhibition, Beyond Fortune: Myths & Truths of Doris Duke.

Want to learn more about the collections at our museums? Click here for Rough Point Museum, Whitehorne House Museum, or find Newport Restoration Foundation at!

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