Terra Collection Initiative:Our Souls are by Nature Equal to Yours: The Life and Legacy of Judith Sargent Murray

This Terra Collection Initiative is the first in-depth, scholarly presentation of Revolutionary-era writer, philosopher, and women’s rights advocate Judith Sargent Murray (1751–1820). The exhibition contributes to the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Sargent House Museum, a historic house museum located in Gloucester, MA, once occupied by Murray and now devoted to engaging the public in her life and ideas.

The exhibition and related programs provide an opportunity to unite for the first time the Terra Foundation’s 1772 portrait of Judith Sargent Murray by John Singleton Copley with Murray’s letters, writings, and personal objects. Painted when the sitter was 19 years old, the portrait serves as the centerpiece for these contextualizing objects, allowing for a rich discussion of Murray’s future as an advocate and writer.

This exhibition is co-organized by the Cape Ann Museum, the Sargent House Museum, and the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Dates and Venues

September 21, 2019–December 2021
Cape Ann Museum, Gloucester, MA

Works of Art from the Terra Foundation Collection

John Singleton Copley, Portrait of Mrs. John Stevens (Judith Sargent, later Mrs. John Murray), 1770–72

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A lecture series, held from January through March 2020, enhances the exhibition and brings to Gloucester a group of scholars to speak on Murray’s life and writings; other eighteenth-century American women writers and philosophers, including Mercy Otis Warren; the art of John Singleton Copley; and women’s roles in the American Revolution and the early Republic. The exhibition and lecture series brings Judith Sargent Murray’s legacy into the twenty-first century, drawing parallels between Murray’s ideas and today’s continued engagement in the movement for women’s rights and equality.

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