Robert Henri (American, 1865–1929)
Oil on canvas
24 x 20 in. (61 x 50.8 cm)
Arthur Hoppock Hearn Fund, 1950 (50.47)
Like many late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century painters, Henri was influenced by the art of the old masters, especially the candid portraits by Diego Velázquez and Frans Hals. Championing truth and vitality in life as in art, he encouraged students to explore and depict familiar surroundings honestly and directly. When Henri and some of his students visited Europe in the summer of 1907, they spent time in Haarlem, Hals' hometown in the Netherlands. Henri's Dutch Girl in White, painted there, recalls the Dutch master's work. Henri's painting depicts one of his favorite Haarlem models, Martche—of whom he made at least ten portraits—haloed by the brim of a straw hat and dressed in a high-necked blouse described with thick slashes of white and gray paint. Henri's vivacious portrait signals his own energetic engagement in art making and some of his young sitter's lively character.