Anne in Purple Wrap1921
40 1/2 in. x 32 1/2 in. (102.87 cm x 82.55 cm)
The vibrant color and vigorous brushstroke, which so effectively capture the youthful spirit of this ten-year-old girl, reflect the impact that the 1913 Armory Show had on Bellows's work. Although he remained a realist and never distanced himself from the actual appearance of the sitter, exposure to the European avant-garde encouraged him to experiment with bold color and line and their power to convey emotion. Here the brilliant purples and greens, combined with sweeping lines and animated brushstrokes, give the portrait great psychological and aesthetic power.
In addition to borrowing from modern art, Bellows also looked to past traditions for inspiration. He wrote to his former art professor at Ohio State University: “Having got what I can out of the modernist movement for fresh, spontaneous pure color, I am now turning my attention to the 'Secrets of the Old Masters.'"2 While the intimacy of this portrait is reminiscent of Bellows's early images of street urchins, the rich, jewel-like color, deep atmospheric space, and sculptural modeling are typical of his 1920s portraits and reveal his admiration for Old Master techniques. In drawing from art history, Bellows endows the picture of Anne with a formal grandeur that stands in strong contrast to the informality of his earlier portraits.
Another source of inspiration for Bellows's new portrait style was the American realist Thomas Eakins. After seeing the artist's 1917 memorial exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bellows wrote to Robert Henri declaring Eakins to be "one of the best of all the world's masters. The greatest one man show I've ever seen and some of the very greatest pictures."3 Bellows admired the artist's direct and psychologically penetrating portraits. As with Eakins, Bellows's personal involvement with his sitters allowed for candid, insightful portraits that reflect his relationship with the subject.
The dim lighting of Anne in Purple Wrap, which softens the atmosphere and envelops the figure of Anne, creates a tender intimacy suggesting the bond between father and daughter. While her white dress may signify childlike purity and innocence, Anne's jewelry and wrap connote an emerging femininity and sophistication.4 The carved Victorian armchair introduces a note of nostalgia, alluding to Bellows's awareness of the passage of time and Anne's approaching adolescence. The overly large chair seems to push her toward the picture plane as if to present her to the outside world, yet at the same time its curved frame protectively embraces her.
This armchair was a favorite prop of the artist and appears in several other portraits of this period: Katherine Rosen (1921, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut) and Portrait of My Mother (1921, Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio). Each of these paintings represents a woman at a different stage of life. Depicted in Victorian settings and, in the case of Katherine Rosen, historical costume, these subjects transcend their individual personalities to become "types" or symbols of larger themes. As art historian Jane Myers has noted, "Bellows was gradually coming to the belief that profound artistic achievement involved synthesizing the ordinary aspects of the sitter with the great themes of human existence.”5 This combination of individual character and universal archetype is typical of Bellows's later portraits. In Anne in Purple Wrap Bellows not only speaks of his relationship with his daughter and her growing maturity, but he also explores the larger themes of age, the passage of time, and the cycle of life.
Allison Kemmerer, Addison Gallery of American Art: 65 Years, A Selective Catalogue (Andover, Massachusetts: Addison Gallery of American Art, 1996), pp. 325
1. George Bellows to Joseph Taylor, 15 January 1914, Bellows Papers, Box I, Folder 12, Special Collections Department, Amherst College Library, Massachusetts.
2. Quoted in Charles Morgan, George Bellows: Painter of America (New York: Reynal & Company, 1965), p. 174.
3. George Bellows to Robert Henri, 16 November 1917, Charles Morgan Papers, Box V, Folder 4, Special Collections Department, Amherst College Library.
4. Jane Myers, "Bellows and Portraiture” in Michael Quick et al., The Paintings of George Bellows (New York: Harry N. Abrams. 1992), p. 219.
5. Ibid., p. 197.
This object was included in the following exhibitions:
- American Art: American Art from the Days of the Colonists to Now The Dallas Art Association , 11/16/1922 - 11/30/1922
- The Child Through Four Centuries Wildenstein and Co., Inc. , 2/28/1945 - 3/28/1945
- George Bellows: Paintings, Prints and Drawings The Art Institute of Chicago , 1/31/1946 - 3/10/1946
- Behold the Child The Baltimore Museum of Art , 11/7/1950 - 12/3/1950
- Scope in Collecting [25th Anniversary Exhibition] Addison Gallery of American Art , 10/19/1956 - 12/24/1956
- A Retrospective Exhibition of the Work of George Bellows National Gallery of Art , 1/19/1957 - 4/21/1957
- Portraiture: The 19th and 20th Centuries Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute Museum of Art , 3/31/1957 - 11/15/1957
- Paintings, Drawings, Prints and Sculpture from American College and University C The William Hayes Ackland Memorial Art Center, UNC-Chapel Hill , 9/20/1958 - 10/20/1958
- Portraits of Children 1860 to 1960 Portraits, Inc. , 4/19/1960 - 5/9/1960
- From the Archives of American Art: The Role of the Macbeth Gallery American Federation of Arts , 10/8/1962 - 5/31/1963
- Masterpieces from American Museums The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art , 1/15/1967 - 2/19/1967
- Portraits of Yesterday and Today Portraits, Inc. , 4/24/1968 - 5/21/1968
- The Works Addison Gallery of American Art , 11/7/1969 - 2/22/1970
- Andover Garden Club Exhibition Addison Gallery of American Art , 4/10/1980 - 4/13/1980
- The Split-Up: The Beginning of a New Art in America Addison Gallery of American Art , 3/13/1981 - 4/12/1981
- Masterworks from the Collection: 50th Anniversary Exhibition Addison Gallery of American Art , 5/9/1981 - 6/14/1981
- Boys and Girls, Men and Women Addison Gallery of American Art , 4/12/1990 - 6/10/1990
- George Bellows: Selections from the Permanent Collection Addison Gallery of American Art , 3/15/1994 - 4/18/1994
- Faces of the Addison: Portraits from the Collection Addison Gallery of American Art , 4/23/1994 - 7/31/1994
- Masterworks from the Permanent Collection Addison Gallery of American Art , 9/5/1995 - 12/17/1995
- Addison Gallery of American Art: 65 Years Addison Gallery of American Art , 4/13/1996 - 7/31/1996
- Sculpture in Context Addison Gallery of American Art , 4/17/1999 - 7/31/1999
- Foundations: Building the Addison Collection Addison Gallery of American Art , 1/12/2001 - 4/1/2001
- Identity and Intention: Two Centuries of American Portraiture Addison Gallery of American Art , 9/4/2001 - 12/30/2001
- Eye on the Collection: Copley to Hopper Addison Gallery of American Art , 12/21/2004 - 6/12/2005
- Eye on the Collection: West to Hopper Addison Gallery of American Art , 6/17/2005 - 10/16/2005
- Child's Play: Children from the Addison Collection Addison Gallery of American Art , 10/29/2005 - 12/31/2005
- 75 Years of Giving Addison Gallery of American Art , 4/11/2006 - 7/31/2006
- Eye on the Collection: Views and Viewpoints Addison Gallery of American Art , 1/19/2008 - 3/23/2008
- Inside, Outside, Upstairs, Downstairs: The Addison Anew Addison Gallery of American Art , 9/7/2010 - 3/27/2011
- Muse [Phillips Academy Art 300] Addison Gallery of American Art , 3/8/2011 - 3/27/2011
- Eye on the Collection Addison Gallery of American Art , 1/19/2013 - 3/10/2013
- Eye on the Collection: Artful Poses Addison Gallery of American Art , 2/1/2014 - 3/30/2014
- In Tandem: Inspirations and Collaborations Addison Gallery of American Art , 9/12/2015 - 1/3/2016
- One Thing Leads to Another…Selections from the Collection Addison Gallery of American Art , 1/30/2016 - 3/20/2016
- Eye on the Collection Addison Gallery of American Art , 9/1/2017 - 7/31/2018
This object has the following bibliographic references:
- Debra Hanson. Rival Sisters: Art & Music at the Birth of Modernism . Ashgate Ltd., New York and London. Spring 2012
- [book on history and conservation of Thomas Eakins’ painting The Gross Clinic] . Philadelphia Museum of Art. 2013
- Ellen Hardy. Non Sibi Calendar . Phillips Academy. 11/2006
This object is a member of the following portfolios:
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