The American Muse exhibition is as much an homage to American women of the late 19th and early 20th centuries as it is to the illustrators who accurately portrayed the quintessential yet distinctly American feminine beauty these women embodied. The American illustrators highlighted include Charles Dana Gibson, Harrison Fisher, Philip Boileau, McClelland Barclay, Howard Chandler Christy, Walter Granville Smith and Albert Beck Wenzell.
Each of these illustrators created their own prototypical image of "The American Woman." The public gave these illustrators’ artworks generic names as part of their respective oeuvre, most popularly "The Gibson Girl" and "The Fisher Girl." These renditions of the feminine ideal captured the increasingly independent spirit of American women. The illustrations both shaped and reflected American society and its notions of female beauty. Compared to women of previous eras these women relished more freedoms, enjoyed greater opportunities in sports and education, and were in the vanguard during a time when women effected change through social and political movements on an unprecedented scale in Western culture.
Exhibition overview from museum website