Charles Townsend Ludington

Cecilia Beaux American

Not on view

Cecilia Beaux’s little-known and rarely publicly seen depiction of four-year-old Charles Townsend Ludington (1896-1968) is one of the most appealing of her later child portraits. Dating to the turn of the twentieth century—when Beaux’s creative skills were at their height and her reputation as the most celebrated woman painter of figures and portraits working in the U.S. was secure—the work reveals the artist’s bravura and economic application of paint to convey personality, particularly that of a child. Sensitively and imaginatively rendered, Beaux’s depictions of children were most acclaimed for their psychological dimension even more than their compositional originality and strength of design. Beaux chose a professional career over marriage and motherhood, but maintained close relationships with her nieces and nephews, and brought a “fragile loveliness” to her representations (both commissioned and non-) of children and their mothers, in particular. For example, the portrait of Charles Townsend Ludington led to a commission some three years later to paint with similar fluency his equally artistically garbed mother, Ethel Saltus Ludington (1871-1922), a work now in the collection of the Florence Griswold Museum.

Charles Townsend Ludington, Cecilia Beaux (American, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 1855–1942 Gloucester, Massachusetts), Oil on canvas

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