Bitter no doubt viewed this profile of Clare, his six-year-old niece, as a casual representation, as suggested by the sketchy, tactile handling of form. Striated tool marks add dynamism to Bitter’s characterization of his wide-eyed sitter. Once considered a means to a more polished end, the sketch aesthetic was popularized in the late-nineteenth century through low relief portraits by Augustus Saint-Gaudens and others. “Claerchen” is a diminutive form of the sitter’s name that recalls Bitter’s Austrian heritage.
Signature: [lower right]: Bitter/ 93
Inscription: [at center]: CLAERCHEN
Marking: [foundry mark, lower right]: Cast by The Henry Bonnard Bronze Co. / New York. 1893.
the artist's niece, Clare Bitter Valle; her daughter, Helene Valle, died 1991