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 Met, 16.95
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]