A pioneer in secondary education, Sarah Porter opened her boarding school for girls in Farmington, Connecticut, in 1843. Named Miss Porter’s School, the enterprise succeeded quickly, and its solid curriculum was soon attracting students from across the country. Ultimately, the school acquired a reputation for being elite, and it did not encourage students to aspire to anything beyond the traditional female roles of wife and mother. Nevertheless, its breadth of instruction and high standards helped to foster a new and more challenging norm in women’s education.
Porter was over eighty when she sat for this portrait. The artist, Robert Brandegee, received his training in France and for many years taught classes at Miss Porter’s. This likeness is one of six that he painted of Porter.