In this early 20th century portrait, by American artist Robert (Cozad) Henri (1865-1929), a woman emerges from a dark background and looks out over her right shoulder toward the viewer, her hand holding her garment closed at her breast as though caught in the midst of an intimate moment, while light glints off her fine gold jewellery. The facial features are delicately rendered, finished with soft brushstrokes that lead down the neck of the sitter, Mrs. John C. Nagel, and progressively turn to looser strokes and broader blocks of colour. Signed "Robert Henri" l.l., inscribed on the reverse.
Robert Henri (1865 – 1929) was an American painter and teacher. Henri studied at both the Académie Julian and the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. Though Thomas Eakins was no longer teaching at the Academy when Henri arrived, Eakins was immensely influential for Henri, who regarded him as the superior portrait painter in the United States and followed Eakins’s bluntly realist style.
He was a leading figure of the Ashcan School of American realism and an organizer of the group known as "The Eight," a loose association of artists who protested the restrictive exhibition practices of the powerful, conservative National Academy of Design. Henri's philosophical and practical musings were collected by former pupil Margery Ryerson and published as The Art Spirit (1923), a book that remained in print for several decades. Henri's other students include George Bellows, Arnold Franz Brasz, Stuart Davis, Edward Hopper, Rockwell Kent, Henry Ives Cobb, Jr., Lillian Cotton, and Yasuo Kuniyoshi. In the spring of 1929, Henri was named as one of the top three living American artists by the Arts Council of New York.
24 x 20 in.