The inward-turning, self-supporting pose suggests a psychic wound. Anne Morrow Lindbergh, a prolific author and pioneering female aviator, had lost her first child only six years earlier, in a famous kidnapping and murder whose unrelenting publicity ultimately drove her family abroad.
Morrow Lindbergh had met her husband, the celebrated aviator Charles A. Lindbergh, under happier circumstances, when he toured Mexico at the invitation of her father, Dwight D. Morrow (Class of 1895), U.S. Ambassador to Mexico from 1927 to 1930. The Morrows helped popularize Mexican folk art in the United States through their writings and support of traveling exhibitions. Their sizable collection of Mexican popular art came to Amherst College in 1955.
With their neutral backgrounds, slightly turned figures, and the detail of removed gloves, Brackman’s pendant portraits of the Lindberghs reference the tenets of seventeenth-century Dutch portraiture, especially the work of Frans Hals (1581–1666). While Charles’s gloves and upright posture impart an air of adventure, as though he is about to set out for an airfield, Anne’s loose grip, anguished face, and hunched shoulders communicate a sense of resigned anguish. Though she later gained fame as a writer—her first book, a travelogue titled North to the Orient, was published in 1938—at the time of her sitting, Anne Morrow Lindbergh was known primarily as the wife of a celebrity pilot, and, tragically, the mother of a son whose kidnapping and murder drew unceasing media attention.
painting; portraits; women
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