Bessie Potter

Artist: William Merritt Chase (American, Williamsburg, Indiana 1849–1916 New York)

Date: ca. 1895

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 32 x 25 5/8 in. (81.3 x 65.1 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Bequest of Bessie Potter Vonnoh Keyes, 1954

Accession Number: 55.118


Bessie Potter (1872–1955) was born in Saint Louis and studied in Chicago. She earned a reputation as a sculptor of statuettes in bronze that portray intimate feminine subjects. In 1899, she married the painter Robert Vonnoh and lived in New York, where she and her husband undoubtedly knew Chase. In this portrait, Chase captures Potter's sensitive but reserved personality. Her pose and the soft turban that she wears recall those in a self-portrait (1790; Uffizi, Florence) by the French painter Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun (1755–1842), whom Potter apparently admired.