A Portrait of Abby

Charlotte Wharton with photo of her painting of Abby Kelley Foster. Photo taken by Betty Jenewin.
Ann Marie Shea, Charlotte Wharton, Mayor Petty, Mary Oroszko
Louise Gleason, Hayley Gleason, Marj Cohen, Dotty Goldsberry
Lynne McKenney Lydick, Charlotte Wharton

On the eve of Abby Kelley Foster’s 204th birth-day (and the 128th anniversary of her death), internationally-recognized painter, Charlotte Wharton, gave a talk about the beautiful portrait she was commissioned to paint by the Worcester Women’s History Project in 1998. This important portrait, painted in the 19th-century style, hangs in the Great Hall, in Mechanics Hall, Worcester, Massachusetts, with thirty other portraits of significant historical individuals. 

In order to get to “know” Abby prior to beginning the portrait, Charlotte told the audience that she was “led on a journey that took her to many venues in Worcester” for research. She read two years’ worth of Abby’s letters to and from her husband Stephen, to William Lloyd Garrison and others. She researched 19th century oratory styles and visited Abby’s grave in Hope Cemetery in Worcester. The audience was fascinated as she shared some of her experiences and “the symbolisms that are in the portrait which bear great significances... but no one would know unless they were thus informed.” 

She finished with a thank you to the Worcester Women’s History Project for awarding her one of the most important commissions of her career. 

If you missed this fine talk and wish to learn more about Charlotte’s experiences and her painting of Abby’s portrait, she is creating and self-publishing a limited edition, hard cover, coffee table-type book entitled Abby Kelley Foster Portrait Provenance

You may contact her through her website at charlotte@charlottewhartonstudio.com.


Betty Jenewin, skilled photographer and good friend of WWHP, donated her time and energy to take digital photographs of the four com-missioned women’s portraits in Mechanics Hall. The beauti-ful photograph of Abby’s por-trait was used by artist Char-lotte Wharton during her talk. THANK YOU, BETTY, for your ongoing and continued support of the Project.

Published Date: 
February 12, 2015