Lady with a Red Hat (Portrait of Maggie Wilson)


Frank Duveneck ( American, 1848 - 1919 )

c. 1904
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General Description

Frank Duveneck enjoyed a long career as a portrait and landscape painter and, particularly, as a gifted teacher who founded a regional school in Cincinnati, Ohio. Like many artists of his generation, he traveled and studied in Europe, where he acquired the dark palette and bravura brushwork preferred by artists in Munich. Late in his career, Duveneck turned to the brighter hues of the impressionists, especially during his summers spent in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

Lady with a Red Hat is one of multiple versions that may have been made as demonstration pieces for Duveneck's students. The artist captures the elegance and beauty of the model through interplay of red and green hues. The luminous reflections of sunlight on the woman's costume and skin demonstrate Duveneck's ability to describe light with color, as well as his breathtaking talent for drawing with the brush. Purposefully left in sketchy form, Lady with a Red Hat conveys all the elegance, deft control of brushwork, and coloristic brilliance of French masters such as Edouard Manet. Particularly striking is the strong crimson of the hat and the play of red reflections across the sitter's face. The relaxed atmosphere of summertime enjoyment in this portrait contrasts directly with the sobriety of Duveneck's earlier, darkly tonal paintings. Although difficult to date, this work was most likely painted around the turn of the century, a period when Duveneck was spending a great deal of time in Paris and had purchased a summer home in Gloucester. The Dallas Museum of Art painting closely resembles the subject and technique shown in similar works including Portrait of Maggie Wilson (1898, Museum of Fine Arts Houston), That Summer Afternoon in My Garden (c. 1900, Pfeil Collection), Girl with Parasol (c. 1900, Private Collection), and Woman with a Red Hat and Parasol (c. 1904, collection unknown).

Adapted from

  • DMA label copy (1987.368), n.d.
  • Steven Nash, DMA acquisition proposal (1987.368), September 1987.

Fun Facts

  • The model is Maggie Wilson, who may have also posed for the paintings that feature a similar woman and setting presented in a common palette and technique. Ms. Wilson lived next door to Frank Duveneck's mother in Covington, Kentucky. It's possible that Duveneck purchased the white dress and red hat for Ms. Wilson in order to fully examine the effects of light, shadow, and color relationships between the dress, accessories, and garden surroundings.
  • Frank Duveneck had two studios in Gloucester. He used one in the mornings to take advantage of early sunlight and the other was optimal for afternoon and evening light.

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