Though painted with impressive skill, Mary Jane Ansell’s work is too stylized to be considered hyperrealist. Inspired by haute couture and classical portraiture alike, Ansell’s oil paintings are so pristine, they become slightly unsettling and even surreal. Pale, aristocratic female characters appear to mill about in elaborate gowns and ornate interiors, recalling the bored, upper-class protagonists of Jane Austen novels. But there is something off about these ladies. Their state of idleness begets intrigue and mischief. Ansell captures them making subtle gestures — toying with strange objects, trying on outfits or simply reposing. But their coy gazes seem to be aimed at someone outside of the viewers’ field of vision. Some characters’ eyes express surprise and others, longing, inviting us to create our own narratives about these mysterious, enchanting women.