Alfred Stevens (Belgian, Brussels 1823–1906 Paris)
Oil on canvas
37 3/4 x 27 1/8 in. (95.9 x 68.9 cm)
Gift of Estate of Marie L. Russell, 1946
Not on view
This painting, also known as Confidence, is one of several by Stevens to treat the theme of consolation. As in his other works from the 1870s, here the anecdotal content of a letter containing distressing news asserts itself in a glimpse of the life of fashionable Parisian women in their elegant interiors. Stevens's subject matter and his meticulous attention to contemporary dress and decor elicited analogies to seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish art; in fact, one critic called him the Gerard ter Borch of France.
Inscription: Signed and dated (upper left): Alfred Stevens, 74
Alexander T. Stewart, New York (until d. 1876); his widow, Cornelia M. Stewart, New York (1876–d. 1886; her estate sale, American Art Association, New York, March 23–28ff., 1887, no. 56, for $2,850); Marie L. Russell, New York (by 1941–her d.; her estate, until 1946)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Fashion from 1800 to 1900," 1941, no catalogue.
Hartford. Wadsworth Atheneum. "Let There Be Light," March 11–April 26, 1964, no. 215.
Ann Arbor. University of Michigan Museum of Art. "Alfred Stevens," September 10-October 16, 1977, no. 22.
Baltimore. Walters Art Gallery. "Alfred Stevens," November 20, 1977–January 1, 1978, no. 22.
Montreal. Musée des Beaux-Arts. "Alfred Stevens," February 2–March 19, 1978, no. 22.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Dance," December 17, 1986–September 6, 1987, unnum. checklist.
New York. Adam Williams Fine Art Ltd. "Alfred Stevens: 1823–1906," October 19–November 12, 2004, no. 1.
Roslyn Harbor, N.Y. Nassau County Museum of Art. "Art & Fashion from Marie Antoinette to Jacqueline Kennedy," May 28–August 13, 2006, unnumbered cat. (p. 13).
Camille Lemonnier. "Alfred Stevens." Gazette des beaux-arts, 2nd ser., 17 (1878), p. 336, ill. opp. p. 162 (engraving), incorrectly dates it 1875.
Edward Strahan [Earl Shinn], ed. The Art Treasures of America. Philadelphia, , vol. 1, pp. 30–32, 52, publishes a drawing after it by F. D. Briscoe.
"Stewart's Art Treasures: Selling His Paintings at Auction." New York Times (March 24, 1887), p. 5.
Camille Lemonnier. L'École belge de peinture, 1830–1905. Brussels, 1906, p. 83.
Camille Lemonnier. "Alfred Stevens." L'art et les artistes 3 (April–September 1906), p. 111.
François Monod. Alfred Stevens: Un peintre des femmes du second empire. Évreux, 1909, p. 23, incorrectly dates it to 1875.
François Boucher. Alfred Stevens. Paris, 1930, p. 53.
Elizabeth R. Valentine. "A Century of Fashion." New York Times Magazine (February 2, 1941), p. 6.
William A. Coles. Alfred Stevens. Exh. cat., University of Michigan Museum of Art. Ann Arbor, Mich., 1977, pp. 13, 50–51, 53, no. 22, ill.
Peter Mitchell inThe Other Nineteenth Century: Paintings and Sculpture in the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph M. Tanenbaum. Ed. Louise d'Argencourt and Douglas Druick. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Canada. Ottawa, 1978, p. 182.
Christiane Lefebvre. "Éléments de datation pour le tableau d'Alfred Stevens 'Le Bain' (Musée d'Orsay): 1873–1874." Revue des musées de France: Revue du Louvre 5 (December 1998), pp. 57, 59 n. 23.
Peter Mitchell. Alfred Stevens, 1823–1906. Exh. cat., Adam Williams Fine Art, New York. London, 2004, pp. 32–33, no. 1, illustrates the engraving after this picture.
Joanne Olian inArt & Fashion from Marie Antoinette to Jacqueline Kennedy. Exh. cat., Nassau County Museum of Art. Roslyn Harbor, N.Y., 2006, pp. 12–13, ill. (color).
Christiane Lefebvre. Alfred Stevens, 1823–1906. Paris, 2006, pp. 146–47, fig. 174 (color).
19th Century European Art. Sotheby's, New York. October 23, 2007, p. 169, under no. 94.
This painting has previously been called "La confidence" or "The Confidence." It is one of several paintings by Stevens that deal with the dramatic theme of disappointed love and have been related to contemporary romance novels, such as those by Augier and Dumas. The dresses and accessories are the same as in Le masque japonais (private collection). The model has been compared with the seated brunette in Le bain (Musée d'Orsay, Paris) and the dejected brunette in La tasse de thé (Musée de Mariemont, Paris). The shawl enveloping the seated figure may be the same as in Les visiteuses (Sterling and Francine Clark Art Insititute, Williamstown, Mass.). Another Stevens painting entitled La confidence exists, but its date and location are unknown (see Alexandre 1921).