Detail of painting by Andrea Soldi

Detail of painting by Andrea Soldi, Isabella, Duchess of Manchester, 1738, Whitfield Fine Art

The Foundling Museum
40 Brunswick Square
London WC1N 1AZ

Open: Tue – Sat, 10:00 – 17:00; Sun, 11:00 – 17:00

Adults £11 / £10  Concessions £8.25 / £7.50
FREE for 21 & under, Foundling Friends & National Art Pass holders

A landmark exhibition highlighting the hidden stories of women in the Foundling Hospital’s history.

Marking 100 years of female suffrage, Ladies of Quality & Distinction resets the focus of the Foundling Hospital story, revealing portraits and stories of the remarkable women who supported both the establishment and the running of London’s Foundling Hospital. Despite its male face, women permeate every aspect of the Hospital story; as mothers, supporters, wet nurses, staff, apprentice masters, artists, musicians, craftsmen and foundlings. Yet for almost 300 years, history has placed these women as a footnote to the story.

This exhibition brings these overlooked stories to the fore. Discover portraits of the ‘ladies of quality and distinction’ who in 1735 signed Thomas Coram’s original petition to King George II calling for the establishment of the Foundling Hospital. Displayed together for the first time, these paintings replace the portraits of male governors in the Picture Gallery.

Downstairs in the exhibition gallery, the lives of the women who supported the day-to-day running of the institution are brought to life. Highlights include Mrs Prudence West, a female inspector and the only woman to run a branch Hospital; Miss Eleanor Barnes, one of the earliest female Governors; and Mrs Elizabeth Leicester, an early matron of the Foundling Hospital who oversaw some of its most challenging years.

T: 020 7841 3600