Red Mitts

Hilda Belcher American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 772

Heralded in 1935 as "one of the most distinguished women artists in America," Belcher was known for her portraits and figure studies, especially of children. A student of Robert Henri, she embraced his progressive "art spirit" that advocated a direct and sensitive focus on contemporary life and so-called everyday people, rendered in a dynamic painterly style. In addition to early successes in watercolor, Belcher produced magazine illustrations and cartoons as well as assured paintings in oil, such as "Red Mitts".

Dating from 1908, the year of one of the most successful artist-organized exhibitions of modern art to be held outside the academic establishment—"The Eight" show, held at Macbeth Galleries—"Red Mitts" reveals Belcher’s strong color sense and vigorous brushwork associated with certain members of the group, including her teachers Henri and George Luks. It also indicates their shared empathetic interest in working-class urban subjects—a rarity for women artists at that time. Belcher’s rendering of the youth’s attire—black cap, jacket, boots, and red mittens—as well as his flushed cheek and parted lips, suggest with an immediacy and specificity a studio experience in winter.

Red Mitts, Hilda Belcher (American, Pittsford, Vermont 1881–1963 Maplewood, New Jersey), Oil on canvas, American

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