Edward Burne-Jones (English, 1833-1898) – The Garden of the Hesperides, c.1869-73 (Watercolor on paper on canvas. Hamburger Kunsthalle) – Burne-Jones copied details from Botticelli’s Primavera (circa 1478) in the rhythmic concept of the Hesperide group. The faces, on the other hand, were modeled on real models, including his beloved Mary Zambaco. The physicality of the dancers and the lightness of their movement is accentuated by the transparent robes.
John Singer Sargent (American, 1856-1925) – The Sketchers, 1913 (Oil on canvas. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts) – Mary Foote, a member of the San Vigilio circle that September in 1913, intently works on an unseen canvas in a lush olive grove in San Vigilio, overlooking Lake Gard. The seated figure viewed from the back is Wilfrid de Glehn. This fluidly painted, dynamic work reveals Sargent at his arguably most modern and experimental stage of picture making, marking an exciting transitional moment in his career.
Fernand Léger (French, 1881-1955) – Woman with a Cat, 1921 (Oil on canvas. The Metropolitan Museum of Art) – Motionless and frontal, this colossal nude might be made of stone or metal, evoking at once a classical sculpture and a futuristic robot. While Léger’s subject is rooted in European, particularly French, artistic traditions, his streamlined style reflects contemporary design aesthetics that the painter’s friend, the architect Le Corbusier, advocated and popularized.
Edward Hopper (American, 1882-1967) – Hotel by a Railroad, 1952 (Oil on canvas) – Hopper belongs to a particular category of artist whose work appears sad but does not make us sad. His figures look as though they are far from home. In a simple hotel room, the woman reads a book and the man gazes out of the window at the train tracks. Their faces are vulnerable and introspective. They are adrift in a transient place.
Sir William Orpen (Irish, 1878-1931) – Nude Girl Reading, c.1921 (Oil on canvas) – Model Yvonne Aubicq reads intently. Orpen shows the disarray of the model’s clothes, her wrinkled white stocking and the open handbag. Orpen observes the tension of limbs, the luminous touches on her body, and the blush of fingers and face. The head, tilted towards the viewer is skillfully captured with economy. The pose, for all its complexity, is natural and Orpen looks down at her in a warm caress.
Etienne-Adrien Drian (French, 1885-1961) – Young Ladies Dancing (Oil and gouache, fixed under glass) – Drian was known for his depictions of women, especially elegant Parisiennes. He often painted and designed extravagant costumes for his close friend, the great comic actress Cécile Sorel. He designed both the sets and costumes for her show at the Casino de Paris in 1933.
William Merritt Chase (American, 1849-1916) – Studio Interior, c.1882 (Oil on canvas. Brooklyn Museum) – Chase’s paintings of the studio suggest his belief in a complete and passionate engagement with art. Characterized by rich colors and lively brushwork, the paintings appealed to an American audience increasingly under the sway of the British Aesthetic Movement, which above all championed the artistic appointment of interiors with a rich ensemble of decorated surfaces.