Image: Brooklyn Museum
We begin with a close-up portrait of an Egyptian woman. During the 19th century, Egyptian women played an important role, not only in family life, but also with respect to the economy. Upper-class women often directed the family’s finances and investments, while women among the middle and lower classes could take part in trading or other businesses.
Although sometimes these women had to go to court to fight for their legal rights, in many cases they won. The Egyptian woman in this picture stands unveiled, and her necklace and earrings are particularly eye-catching. Gold paint was often used to highlight jewelry in hand-painted photographs from this era.