Portrait of Bessie Springs Smith White (Mrs. Stanford White)

Thomas Wilmer Dewing American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 766

Boston-born and Paris-trained Thomas Wilmer Dewing is celebrated for his decorative paintings associated with the American Aesthetic Movement. This evocative half-length depiction of Bessie Springs Smith White (1862-1950), the young wife of the artist’s close friend, the architect Stanford White, belongs to a series of small-format portraits of identified subjects close to Dewing. From its first appearance in the spring 1887 exhibition of the Society of American Artists—the organization favored by progressive painters and sculptors—the Smith White portrait has been acclaimed as one of Dewing’s most exquisite and affecting works. The sympathetic depiction of Smith White—both assertive and tender— captures the sitter’s lively personality in a way that distinguishes it from other decorative portraits of the period. The painting is immeasurably enhanced by its virtuosic pierced-work frame, designed by the sitter's husband and reportedly inspired by drawings of lace White saw in Dewing’s studio.

Portrait of Bessie Springs Smith White (Mrs. Stanford White), Thomas Wilmer Dewing (American, 1851–1938), Oil on panel, American

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