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The sitter is posed in a romantic setting wearing fashionable attire, but Peale did not soften her intense gaze or prominent nose.
Helen and her husband founded McLean Seminary, a girls' school in Indianapolis.
Peale was a member of a Philadelphia family of prominent American painters.
Painted by commission from the sitter's father. Hellen Miller McLean and her husband, Charles McLean, Head of Indiana Female Seminary/McLean Seminary (1852-1860), moved to Indianapolis, Indiana after 1815. The painting was hung in the McLean Seminary until 1929 when it was donated to the John Herron Art Institute, now the Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields, by alumni in 1929.