Elizabeth Carter ('Elizabeth Carter as Minerva')

1 portrait on display in Room 10 at the National Portrait Gallery

Elizabeth Carter ('Elizabeth Carter as Minerva'), by John Fayram, circa 1735-1741 - NPG L242 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Elizabeth Carter ('Elizabeth Carter as Minerva')

by John Fayram
oil on canvas, circa 1735-1741
35 3/8 in. x 27 1/8 in. (900 mm x 690 mm)
Lent by Paddy Barrett, 2008
Primary Collection
NPG L242

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Sitterback to top

  • Elizabeth Carter (1717-1806), Scholar and writer. Sitter associated with 9 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • John Fayram (active 1727-1743). Artist associated with 7 portraits.

This portraitback to top

In 1741, Carter's publisher, Edward Cave, published a eulogy entitled 'On Miss CARTER's being drawn in the Habit of Minerva, with Plato in her Hand.' The poem alerted readers to this portrait depicting Carter as the goddess of wisdom who has laid aside the spear she usually carries in favour of a copy of Plato. As the poem explains, Minerva was an 'apt disguise' for Carter because both personified a combination of intellect, virtue and chastity. Together the painting and the poem reveal how Carter was presented as a moral role model for learned and creative professional women.