The Masquerade Dress, 1911
Robert Henri (American, 1865–1929)
Oil on canvas; 76 1/2 x 36 1/4 in. (194.3 x 92.1 cm)
Arthur Hoppock Hearn Fund, 1958 (58.157)
Although Henri painted some city views of the sort that his Ashcan School colleagues produced, he more often turned his attention to portraits. Created to demonstrate his skills, and, possibly, to attract patronage, is this imposing lifesize image of his second wife, Marjorie Organ, whom he married in May 1908, after the death of his first wife in December 1905. Organ, who had emigrated from Ireland to the United States at the age of thirteen, had been Henri's student. She worked as a cartoonist at the New York Journal, where she was the only woman on the art staff. Henri's portrait exemplifies his directness in representing his models. Nothing but the figure engages him; the background offers no distractions; and the legacy of Diego Velázquez's naturalistic portraits is palpable.