Alfred Stevens (Belgian, Brussels 1823–1906 Paris)
Oil on canvas
42 x 53 1/2 in. (106.7 x 135.9 cm)
Gift of Mrs. Charles Wrightsman, 1986
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 827
By the time Stevens exhibited this painting at the Salon of 1892, his status as the consummate painter of chic, Parisian femininity was well-established. The winsome trio of model, artist, and a visitor are posed in what may be Stevens’s own studio, which was known for its stylish arrangement of luxurious collectibles; on the easel is his version of Salomé, based on Regnault’s famous painting of 1870 (now hanging nearby). The open portfolio, pictures-within-a-picture, and mirror (reflecting a mundane coal stove) present an elaborate play on the relationship between art and reality.
An artist and her model take a break from a painting session to welcome a visitor to the studio—another woman, dressed in street clothes. On the easel is Stevens’s Salomé (1888; Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels), a freely interpreted version of the painting by Henri Regnault that was the sensation of the 1870 Salon (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 16.15).
Although the painter in the picture is a woman, the setting is thought to be Stevens’s own studio, which was admired for its stylish arrangement of his collections of exotic and luxurious objects. With the open portfolio, pictures-within-the-picture, and mirror (reflecting a mundane coal stove), this work of 1888 presents an elaborate play on the relationship between art and reality.
Stevens welcomed female students at his studio in the avenue Frochot during the 1880s, among them Camille Prévost (daughter of his teacher Roqueplan), Clémence Roth, Louise Desbordes, Pauline Cuno, Marie Beck, Alix d’Anethan, Berthe Art, and Georgette Meunier. [William A. Coles, Alfred Stevens, exh. cat., University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor, Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, and Musée des Beaux-Arts, Montreal (Ann Arbor, 1997), p. xxxiv.]
A number of other canvases by Stevens depict his studio, such as The Studio (Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels) and The Painter and His Model (Walters Art Museum, Baltimore), where the artist is present. Interior of a Studio (Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh) and Visit to the Studio (private collection, Indianapolis) depict women looking at a canvas. The model on the sofa in this painting may be the same woman who posed for Stevens’s Ophelia of 1887 (location unknown).
[2014; adapted from Tinterow and Miller 2005]
Inscription: Signed and dated (lower left): AStevens [initials in monogram] .88.
Louis Sarlin (by 1900–18; his estate sale, Georges Petit, Paris, March 2, 1918, no. 68; sold together with entire contents of that sale for Fr 3,000,000 to Heilbuth); Herman Heilbuth, Copenhagen (from 1918); sale, Galerie Fievez, Brussels, June 14–15, 1927, no. 262, as "L'atelier"; [Galerie Bruno Meissner, Zurich, in 1978]; Dr. and Mrs. Edwin J. De Costa, Chicago (until 1980; their sale, Sotheby's, New York, January 25, 1980, no. 148, for $77,500, to Hirschl & Adler for Wrightsman); Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wrightsman, New York (1980–his d. 1986); Mrs. Charles Wrightsman, New York (1986)
Paris. Champ-de-Mars. "Salon de la Sociéte nationale des beaux-arts," May 7, 1892, no. 966 (as "L'atelier").
Paris. École des Beaux-Arts. "Exposition de l'oeuvre d'Alfred Stevens," February 6–27, 1900, no. 148 (as "L'atelier," lent by Louis Sarlin, Paris).
Exposition nationale des beaux-arts. Exh. cat., Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts. Paris, 1892, pp. 27, 96, no. 966, ill.
Camille Lemonnier. Alfred Stevens et son oeuvre, suivi des impressions sur la peinture par Alfred Stevens. Brussels, 1906, p. 32, Pl. XXXV, calls it "La visite à l'atelier" and identifies the painting on the easel as "la Salomé rousse du Musée de Bruxelles".
Lucy Oakley inRecent Acquisitions: A Selection, 1986–1987. New York, 1987, pp. 38–39, ill. (color), comments that the painting depicted on the easel corresponds closely to Stevens's finished picture "Salomé" (Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels), which was completed the same year as "In the Studio"; compares the model dressed as Salomé to Regnault's famous picture of the same subject (MMA 16.95); comments on the diversity of the three women's modes of dress and of the objects depicted in the room; calls it "a complex and successful work".
John Russell. "Art: Met Favorites, Outdoors and In." New York Times (July 31, 1987), p. C28, notes that the work is evocative of date and place, displaying a female artist at a time when Berthe Morisot was one of the best painters in Paris.
19th Century European Art. Sotheby's, New York. October 29, 2002, p. 92, fig. 1, mentions it in notes for the sale of Stevens's "La boule de verre" (location unknown), which was also owned by Mrs. Charles Wrightsman and which also includes a "reflective device"; compares the convex mirror on the wall in the background of this work to that in Jan van Eyck's "Arnolfini Wedding Portrait" (National Gallery, London).
Peter Mitchell. Alfred Stevens, 1823–1906. Exh. cat., Adam Williams Fine Art, New York. London, 2004, p. 40, under no. 5, fig. 31.
Gary Tinterow and Asher Ethan Miller inThe Wrightsman Pictures. Ed. Everett Fahy. New York, 2005, pp. 396–97, no. 112, ill. (color), note that the model on the sofa may be the same sitter in Stevens's "Ophelia" (location unknown); list two other Stevens paintings of women looking at canvases: "Interior of a Studio" (Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh) and "Visite à l'atelier" (private collection, Indianapolis), as well as paintings of Stevens himself in his studio: "L'atelier" (Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels) and "The Painter and His Model" (Walters Art Museum, Baltimore).
19th Century European Art. Sotheby's, New York. April 20, 2005, p. 217, under no. 127.
Christiane Lefebvre. Alfred Stevens, 1823–1906. Paris, 2006, pp. 90–91, 112, 176, fig. 89 (color).
Several other canvases by Stevens depict the artist's studio, including "L'atelier" (Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels) and "The Painter and His Model" (Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore), where the artist is present. "Interior of a Studio" (Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh) and "Visite à l'atelier" (private collection, Indianapolis) depict women looking at a canvas. The model on the sofa in this painting may be the same as in "Ophelia" of 1887 (location unknown). There is a painting by Stevens of "Salomé" (Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels) that relates to the unfinished picture seen on the easel in this work.