Little Denise (Denise Maréchal, later Madame Georges Béart, 1883–1956)

Theo Van Rysselberghe Belgian

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 825

Van Rysselberghe’s six-year-old niece, Denise Maréchal, poses next to a marble mantelpiece and underneath a fashionable Japanese hanging scroll. At once innocent and self-possessed, the little girl holds her own in the geometric, structured setting. The portrait is one of the artist’s first in the Pointillist technique, which he and other progressive Belgian painters adopted after seeing the work of Georges Seurat. Van Rysselberghe displayed his mastery of the method with deftly varied brushwork in the bold, patterned background and delicately rendered face. When he exhibited the painting in 1890, critics praised the naturalism and emotional expressiveness that he brought to the analytical rigor of Pointillism.

Little Denise (Denise Maréchal, later Madame Georges Béart, 1883–1956), Theo Van Rysselberghe (Belgian, Ghent 1862–1926 Saint Clair), Oil on canvas

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