5 Disgruntled Characters from the Collection

Not every sitter is excited to be painted. The Phillips owns a wide range of portraits, and within them, all manner of expressions. Here are five less-than-enthused subjects from the museum’s permanent collection.

1. Chaim Soutine’s Woman in Profile  is #NotImpressed.

Soutine_woman in profile

Chaim Soutine, Woman in Profile, ca. 1937. Oil on canvas, 18 13/8 x 10 7/8 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC. Acquired 1943; © 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, NY

2. Paul Klee, The Witch with the Comb. The fierce brows say it all.

Klee_the witch with the comb

Paul Klee, The Witch with the Comb, 1922. Lithograph, 20 7/8 in x 16 3/4 in x 1 1/4 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC. Gift of B. J. and Carol Cutler, 2006; © 2015 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York, NY

3. Sensing some side-eye from Joseph Solman’s Portrait in Yellow and Blue.

Solman_portrait in yellow and blue

Joseph Solman, Portrait in Yellow and Blue, not dated, Oil on canvas 20 x 16 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC. Acquired 1954

4) Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot’s Portrait of a Woman unsuccessfully feigning interest.

Corot_portrait of a woman

Unsuccessfully feigning interest. Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Portrait of a Woman, 1870, Oil on canvas, 22 7/8 in x 19 in x 1 5/8 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC. Acquired 1922

5. Thomas Eakins, Miss Amelia Van Buren. Read what visitors told us she’s thinking in these earlier blog posts.

Eakins_Miss Amelia Van Buren

Thomas Eakins, Miss Amelia Van Buren, ca. 1891. Oil on canvas, 45 x 32 in. The Phillips Collection, Washington, DC. Acquired 1927

To end on a happy note: channel this woman from Sam Taylor-Johnson’s Cry Laughing!

taylor-johnson_cry laughing

Sam Taylor-Johnson, Cry Laughing, 1997. 8 C-type prints on aluminum, each print: 16 x 12 in. The Phillips Collection. Gift of the Heather and Tony Podesta Collection, Washington, DC, 2011

A Portrait of Texture

William Merritt Chase, The Turkish Page (Unexpected Intrusion), 1876. Oil on canvas, 41 1/4 x 37 1/8 in. Cincinnati Art Museum, Gift of the John Levy Galleries, 1923

William Merritt Chase completed The Turkish Page during his student years at the Royal Munich Academy. As was common practice with the Academy’s students, he and his classmate Frank Duveneck arranged for a local boy to model for them in Chase’s Munich studio. Bathing the composition in shimmering reflections of artificial light and shadow, Chase captures the boy dressed in exotic Turkish costume feeding a cockatoo from a shiny copper bowl. The artist’s choice of accessories, from the hanging patterned textile, to the plush red velvet blanket and striped leopard rug, reveal his early talent for the illusionistic depiction of shiny surfaces and layered textures, qualities that became the hallmarks of his mature style. Moreover, the painting anticipates Chase’s developing appetite for collecting and adorning his studio with a vast array of objects, as seen in his Tenth Street studio paintings.

Elsa Smithgall, Exhibition Curator

William Merritt Chase’s Tenth Street Studio

The Tenth Street Studio, 1880 (oil on canvas) by Chase, William Merritt

William Merritt Chase, The Tenth Street Studio, 1880. Oil on canvas, 36 1/4 x 48 1/4 in. St. Louis Art Museum, Bequest of Albert Blair

Celebrated as “one of the finest studios in the city,” William Merritt Chase’s lavish Tenth Street Studio brimming with a diverse array of objects, paintings, textiles, and bric-a-brac is brilliantly captured in this painting. Chase arranged the space of his studio with the same artistic eye for color, rhythm, and harmony that he imparted to his art. As he said, “A wall should be treated as a canvas is. Real objects take the place of colors.” This painting provides an expansive frontal view into the grand interior chamber of Chase’s studio, where we witness an exchange between a young woman and the artist. The white of the woman’s cascading dress on which rests the paw of Chase’s black Russian hound draws the viewer into the scene; off to her right, in the shadow, is her attentive interlocutor Chase with palette in hand to suggest that he is in the process of his craft. Whereas Chase’s presence is only implied in the other studio pictures, here he has inserted himself into the painting, thereby offering a glimpse into the way the studio was at once a place for art-making and a place to receive patrons, students, and friends.

Elsa Smithgall, Exhibition Curator