Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Painted portraits of modern European women

Gottlieb Schick
Portrait of Heinrike Dannecker
oil on canvas
Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin

Jean-Bernard Duvivier
Portrait of Madame Tallien
oil on canvas
Brooklyn Museum

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres
Portrait of Madame Duvaucey
oil on canvas
Musée Condé, Chantilly

Thomas Lawrence
Portrait of Caroline Matilda Sotheron
ca. 1808
oil on canvas
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide

Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg
Portrait of the model Maddalena (or Anna Maria) Uhden
oil on canvas
Hirschsprung Collection, Copenhagen

"Sophie did not possess many books.  She had her hymnal, her Evangelium, and a list, bound with ribbon, of all the dogs that her family had ever had, although some of them had died so long ago that she could not remember them."

"There was not even a passable likeness of Sophie in the house, except for a wretched miniature, in which her eyes appeared to bulge like gooseberries, or like Fichte's.  Only the hair, falling defiantly over her white muslin dress, was worth looking at.  The miniature caused the whole family, Sophie above all, to laugh immoderately."

 Penelope Fitzgerald, from The Blue Flower (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1995)

Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller
Portrait of the mother of Captain von Stierle Holzmeister
oil on canvas
Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin

Jean-François Millet
Portrait of Louise Antoinette Feuardent
oil on canvas
Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Edgar Degas
Portrait of Victoria Dubourg
oil on canvas
Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio

Edward Harrison May
Portrait of Edith Wharton in childhood
ca. 1870
oil on canvas
National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC

"Yes," said the girl, absentmindedly holding one of her grandmother's hands in her own, examining the thin skin stretched over the pulsing blue veins. "Where do you want to begin?" she asked, turning the limp hand over and looking at the mass of lines on the palm.

"As a young girl," said the old woman rather smugly, "with your red hair and your face, only it was mine then."

"Were you young for a long time?" asked the girl.

"Yes," said her grandmother, "for a very long time." And as she spoke the solemn procession of her childhood walked through the room.  There were people she knew and people who were strangers but whose faces had lodged themselves in her mind.  There were also animals, birds, and even fish which had impressed her in some way or another.  Noises and smells drifted through her head while the darkness of the night and the brightness of the day repeated itself over and over again as the years slipped from one into the next.

She watched them all marching past her bed and when something in particular caught hold of her attention she made it pause so that she could look at it more closely.

 Julia Blackburn, from The Leper's Companions (New York: Pantheon Books, 1999)

James Tissot
Portrait of Mrs. Catherine Smith Gill and two of her children
oil on canvas
Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool

Henri Fantin-Latour
Portrait of Madame Léon Maître
oil on canvas
Brooklyn Museum

John Singer Sargent
Portrait of Mrs. Cecil Wade
oil on canvas
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City

"I had asked her if she happened to know, as we couldn't see, who was next Mrs. Server, and, though unable to say at the moment, she made no scruple, after a short interval, of ascertaining with the last directness.  The stretch forward in which she had indulged, or the information she had caused to be passed up to her while I was again engaged on my right, established that it was Lord Lutley who had brought the lovely lady in and that it was Mr. Long who was on her other side.  These things indeed were not the finest point of my companion's communication, for I saw that what she felt I would be really interested in was the fact that Mr. Long had brought in Lady John, who was naturally, therefore, his other neighbour. Beyond Lady John was Mr. Obert, and beyond Mr. Obert Mrs. Froome, not, for a wonder, this time paired, as by the immemorial tradition, so fairly comical in its candour, with Lord Lutley.  Wasn't it too funny, the kind of grandmotherly view of their relation shown in their always being put together?  If I perhaps questioned whether "grandmotherly" were exactly the name for the view, what yet at least was definite in the light of this evening's arrangement was that there did occur occasions on which they were apart.  My friend of course disposed of this observation by the usual exception that "proved the rule"; but it was absurd how I had thrilled with her announcement, and our exchange of ideas meanwhile helped to carry me on."

– Henry James, from The Sacred Fount (1901)

Sir William Blake Richmond
Portrait of Mrs. Ernest Moon
oil on canvas
Tate Britain

Egon Schiele
Portrait of the artist's wife, seated, holding her right ankle
Morgan Library, New York