Portrait of Madame Freret Dericour (1769)
Oil on canvas
Duplessis was a portrait painter of solid accomplishment during the reigns of Louis XV (1715-1774) and XVI (1774-1793). In the Nelson-Atkins portrait, Rococo elegance is beginning to be modified by the more disciplined taste of Neoclassicism. The artist combines a sound sense of form and texture-particularly effective in the smooth, silky coat of the dog-with a straightforward interpretation of character. Here, an unadorned, simple background allows our attention to focus on the sitter, whose pose and gaze are relaxed but self-assured, and whose inclusion of a favorite pet indicates a capacity for kindness and affection.
Mrs. Cecil Wade (1886)
John Singer Sargent
Oil on canvas
John Singer Sargent's Mrs. Cecil Wade shows the 23-year-old wife of an English stockbroker occupying the spacious drawing room of her luxurious London townhome. Sitting stiffly on a settee, she projects a refined, austere presence. Her chiseled profile suggests reserve as well as elevated social status. Conditioned by contemporary French and 17th-century Spanish painting techniques, Sargent's talented brush impressively evokes a range of lighting effects and textures, including fine satin, polished wood and sheer curtains.
Mrs. Cecil Wade was among Sargent's first significant commissions upon relocating to London from Paris in 1886. His move was prompted by a scandal involving his sensuous Madame X (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), which had recently offended Parisian audiences and had temporarily undermined his market there.
Mexican Girl with Oriental Scarf
Oil on canvas
Robert Henri painted sitters from many races, portraying them with his signature keen analysis of character and masterful brushwork. A 1914 trip inaugurated his long-standing fascination with the Southwest and the region’s ethnically diverse people.
This interest was further fostered by multiple visits to northern New Mexico where he found subjects who reflected a blend of cultures, notably Mexican and local Native and Hispanic Americans. Henri acknowledged: “I am looking at each individual with the eager hope of finding something of the dignity of life…the humanity…. I do not wish to explain these people…. I only want to find whatever of the great spirit there is in the Southwest. If I can hold it on my canvas, I am satisfied.”
Portrait of Richard Gallo
Oil on canvas (1881)
Richard Gallo, a close friend of Gustave Caillebotte and editor of the liberal newspaper Le Constitutionnel, is shown with his arms folded defiantly across his chest and a copy of the conservative rival paper, Le Figaro, on his lap. Caillebotte developed a distinctive style characterized by spatial distortions that often suggest the mood or psychology of his subjects.
Depictions of modern Parisian life, whether on the streets or inside middle-class homes, dominated Caillebotte’s paintings of the 1870s and early 1880s.
Jo, the Beautiful Irish Woman
Oil on canvas (1866)
"This canvas celebrates Gustave Courbet’s feeling for his subject Jo Hiffernan, whom he affectionately called “the beautiful Irish woman.” He painted the portrait shortly after meeting Hiffernan, the studio model and mistress of the American painter James McNeill Whistler, during the summer of 1865. As the composition was incredibly popular with Courbet’s middle-class patrons, he painted four almost identical versions around 1866, including this one. He kept one of the portraits until his death, making copies from it upon request."
Family Portrait in a Landscape
Gonzales Coques developed a portrait style that combined the intimacy of a small-scale painting with the grandeur of court portraiture. Here, this family displays their wealth by posing in a garden setting decorated with ornamental features taken from the artist’s repertoire of stock accessories. The black groom leading a horse does not necessarily represent an actual person, but would have been perceived at the time as an “exotic” status symbol. Artists regularly inserted African youths into portraits even when their sitters did not retain black servants in their households.
Portrait of Emily St. Clare as a Bacchante
In this portrait, Emily St. Clare invites the viewer into the world of a bacchante, or follower of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine. Intoxicated by her beauty, St. Clare was the mistress of Sir John Fleming Leicester, who commissioned this and at least 13 other portraits of her from fashionable British artists.
John Hoppner was known for his restrained, formal portraits. Here, however, in striving to fulfill Leicester’s desires, Hoppner conveyed St. Clare’s youthfulness and exuberance through dynamic brushwork, flowing draperies, and an alluring smile.