Progress of Female Virtue

Maria Hadfield Cosway (1759-1838), Progress of Female Virtue. Engraved by A. Cardon, from original drawings by Mrs. Cosway (London: R. Ackermann’s Repository of Arts, 1800). Graphic Arts Collection (GA) Oversize 2005-0256Q
Maria Hadfield Cosway (1759-1838), Progress of Female Dissipation. Engraved by A. Cardon, from original drawings by Mrs. Cosway (London: R. Ackermann’s Repository of Arts, 1803). Graphic Arts Collection (GA) Oversize 2005-0257Q



At a time when most women barely left their parents house, the British/Italian artist Maria Hadfield Cosway (1759-1838) traveled the world, dined with royalty, inspired her fellow artists, and seduced at least one American president.

Cosway created several drawing series meant to be translated to engravings for wide distribution. These include her designs for Progress of Female Virtues (1800), and its complement Progress of Female Dissipation (1803), as well as a volume of Old Master paintings she spent two years copying at the Louvre, published as Gallery of the Louvre (1802).

Also a pioneer in women’s education, Cosway established a college for young ladies in Lyon, serving as its director from 1803 to 1809. This was followed by a convent school for young girls in Lodi, for which she was named Baroness of the Austrian Empire.

NOTE: The Cotsen Children’s Library has these two volumes copied exactly in pen, ink and wash by Antoinette de Chaponay, around 1810.

Antoinette de Chaponay, Progress [of] Female Virtues. Progress [of] Female Dissipation. [Manuscripts] ([France?, 1810 - 1811]). Note: Two lines of verse in English serve as caption to each with French translation pencilled in to right, Drawings en grisaille on buff paper watermarked “F. Iohannot”, interleaved with laid paper. Cotsen Children’s Library (CTSN), Manuscripts Q 32026 and 32027

See also: Stephen Lloyd, Richard & Maria Cosway: Regency Artists of Taste and Fashion (Edinburgh: Scottish National Portrait Gallery, 1995) Marquand Library (SA) Oversize ND497.C75 L55 1995q
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), Jefferson in Love: the Love Letters between Thomas Jefferson & Maria Cosway (Madison: Madison House, 1999). Firestone Library E332.88 .C67 1999