Ernesta, Cecilia Beaux
In the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. Use the download or zoom links below the image on their site.
This beautiful and sensitive portrait by the extraordinary American painter Cecilia Beaux is of her niece, Ernesta Drinker. Ernesta was one of Beaux’s favorite subjects, and she painted her numerous times, from when she was a child to adulthood.
I never fail to be delighted by Beaux’s fluid and confident brush handling, and I think of her as comparable to artists like Sargent, Sorolla, Zorn and William Merritt Chase.
The brushy, textural surfaces, the fascinating variety of colors in the skin and fabric, the gestural brush marks and her command of variation of edges make her work visual poetry.
In this painting, the model’s hands, in particular, are wonders of economy and suggestion.
Though Beaux has been receiving a more recognition in recent years, I still feel that she is not held in as high esteem as her abilities warrant (we can probably guess why).
William Merritt Chase called her “…not only the greatest living woman painter, but the greatest who has ever lived”.
I would leave out the category of “woman painter”, and simply consider her one of the greatest American painters.
For more, see my related posts, below.