Elizabeth Gurney Fry

Petite Exhibit: Quaker Pioneer: Elizabeth Gurney Fry Sculpture

Tuesday, March 14, 2023 - 10:00am to Sunday, May 14, 2023 - 4:30pm

On display with accompanying contextual material is a small classical molded bisque porcelain bust of the English Quaker Elizabeth “Betsy” Gurney Fry (1780-1845), originally created in 1848 by the London sculptor Mary Rivers. 

The small bisque sculpture originally in the collection of a Delaware pioneering woman Mary “Molly” Cowgill Corbit Warner (1848-1923) and is appropriately on display in the National Historic Register Wilson-Warner House that she brought back to the family with its purchase in 1902.  The term “bisque” means that the sculpture was only fired once and was not glazed with color, and the term “molded” means that multiple copies of the original sculpture were created for the general-public.

Elizabeth Fry was a prominent social reformer and activist who called for the improved treatment of female inmates in early 19th century European prisons.  She was deeply influenced by the preaching of the American Quaker William Savery who spoke on the importance of tackling poverty and injustice.  As a reformer Fry caught the attention of Queen Charlotte when she testified before Parliament and as a philanthropist Fry was supported in her efforts by Queen Victoria.  Fry, known as the “angel of prisons,” was commemorated for her achievements with her depiction on the Bank of England’s 5-pound note from 2002-2016.

This showcase petite exhibit is included with general HOF admission.