Amazons in the Drawing Room, on view in Galleries 2 and 3, presents thirty portraits by the expatriate American artist Romaine Brooks (1874-1970). In many ways the exhibition functions as an album of Brooks's friends and contemporaries-the "international lesbian community" of the early 1900s, which counted among its ranks such luminaries as American author Natalie Barney, dancer Ida Rubenstein, and Duchess Elisabeth de Gramont. Brooks's bold assertion of the lesbian identity of many of her subjects was largely unprecedented. At a time not three decades after the scandalous trial and imprisonment of Oscar Wilde, Brooks's unabashed depictions of women in men's clothing challenged prevailing and restrictive Victorian ideals of femininity and sexuality that, in the early twentieth century, were only just beginning to unravel. Most notable are Brooks's daring portraits Peter, a Young English Girl (1923-24) and Una, Lady Troubridge (1924), both of which depict women who have clearly transgressed the bounds of feminine appearance. As the century progressed there would emerge new possibilities for representations of masculinized femininity that were perhaps more readily acceptable to a rapidly maturing society. In the midst of World War II the bulging forearms and tough slouch of Norman Rockwell's iconic Rosie the Riveter renounced feminine mores for patriotic cause, while Marlene Dietrich's trousers and sultry, ambiguous sexuality suggested a new aggressive femininity. In recent decades these explorations of gender, costume, and sexuality have taken a place securely within the mainstream, a recent example being Madonna's flirtatious exploration of sexual excess (including a lesbian tryst with beautiful female models wearing leather and mustaches) in the video for her hit "Justify My Love" (1990). At a time when such transgressions have been reduced to mere titillation, it is interesting to return to Brooks's portraits and consider the individuals they depict, and the brazen abandonment of both social and aesthetic convention they represent. Peter, A Young English Girl depicts Hannah Gluckstein (1895-1978), an English artist who cut her hair short, dressed in men's clothes, and renounced her family name, insisting instead that she be called simply "Gluck." Gluck met Romaine Brooks around 1923, at which time they painted each other's portrait. Like Brooks, Gluck came from a wealthy background and was quick to establish herself as a successful artist; financial security and her circulation within permissive, "bohemian" circles permitted her an independence that would not have been readily available to women at that time. Gluck's work was exhibited several times by London's Fine Arts Society, and her home was featured in a 1935 edition of Homes and Gardens. Although she had several lovers-many of whom she painted-for forty years Gluck's partner was Edith Shackleton Heald, the first female reporter in England's House of Lords. Una Troubridge (1887-1963) was born Una Elena Taylor and grew up in London in upper-middle-class surrounds. Having graduated from the Royal College of Art, she embarked on a career as a sculptor before the death of her father forced her to marry in order to gain financial security. Her husband, naval captain Ernest Troubridge, was twenty-five years her senior; the marriage was not a success, and they were divorced in 1917. In 1915 Una had met "John" Radclyffe Hall and after Una's divorce they began a relationship that would continue until Hall's death in 1943. Together, Troubridge and Hall gained a certain notoriety as an openly gay couple within London and Paris society. In the early stages of their relationship both wore masculine attire in a deliberate flaunting of both femininity and their own sexuality. Brooks's portrait of Una, dressed in pin-striped frock coat with monocle, makeup, and severely styled hair, has been interpreted as a cruel send-up of Una's masculinity. At the time of its painting, Brooks commented in a letter, "Una is funny to paint, her getup is remarkable"; reportedly, after the work was completed Una refused to pay. Mocking or not, the portrait boldly states the possibilities of a female identity other than the "soft" femininity prescribed by mainstream society. Una, Lady Troubridge, which was exhibited in London, New York, Chicago, and Paris, represents as bold a statement of gay identity as could possibly be imagined in the early years of the twentieth century. While many of the women in Brooks's portraits appear as society wished them to be seen-in dresses, with coiffed hair and made-up faces-Una Troubridge and Gluck dictated the terms of their appearance. In doing so, they let it be known exactly who was wearing the trousers.