The Spanish Gypsy

Artist: Robert Henri (American, Cincinnati, Ohio 1865–1929 New York)

Date: 1912

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 40 3/4 x 33 in. (103.5 x 83.8 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Arthur Hoppock Hearn Fund, 1914

Accession Number: 14.80


In a letter of June 1914 preserved in the Metropolitan's archives, Henri recalled: "I painted the 'Spanish Gypsy' in Madrid Spain in the summer of 1912. I do not remember now her name but she was of a band of gipsys whose camp is at Ventas, a rugged, picturesque outskirt of Madrid, a sort of centre from which they forage either in Madrid or in following the fairs in various parts. At Ventas we made friends with 'the Gypsy' and induced her to come to my studio which she entered with austere defiance. I asked her to sit on the model's chair. She got up and sat there in the gesture which is that of the picture. She seems as old and mysterious as the sphinx. When I let her see the picture she said it was 'muy Gitana!' and next day she brought a troop of her friends to see the picture and it was planned to paint her again in some finery she described with enthusiasm but she was off to a chain of fairs before the day set and the second picture was not painted." Henri exhibited The Spanish Gypsy in the 1913 Armory Show. It became the first Ashcan School painting to enter the collection when the Metropolitan purchased it the following year.