Mr. & Mrs.


Guy Pène Du Bois ( American, 1884 - 1958 )

about 1911
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General Description

Born into a sophisticated, literary family, Guy Pène Du Bois studied painting with William Merritt Chase and Robert Henri and became influential as an art critic for several newspapers. Du Bois's work is characterized by a caustic wit with which he observes the behavior of the high and low of New York City. Sketchy forms and shadowed lighting make it difficult to see clearly this society couple out on the town, suggesting perhaps both the loneliness possible in the middle of a crowd and the emptiness of fashionable life. Although later publicly hostile toward abstract art, Du Bois often pushed the boundaries of representation in his figural compositions, as his stylized forms are far from realistic. The subject matter, fluid brushwork, and simple background present in Mr. and Mrs. are characteristic of his paintings around 1920.

Adapted from

  • William Keyse Rudolph, DMA label copy (1945.11), November 2005.

  • TMS data, DMA electronic record, n.d.

Fun Facts

On the verso of this work, there is an incomplete painting presumably by Du Bois. Rather than purchase new panels, many artists chose to save money and reuse their materials for incomplete works. The image shown on the verso appears to be a single, reclining figure.

Web Resources

  • Guy Pène Du Bois: The Twenties at Home and Abroad
    Betsy's Fahlman's essay for a 1994 exhibition at the Westmoreland Museum of Art (Greenburg, PA) summarizes Du Bois' career and offers additional insight on his depictions of couples.

  • Guy Pène Du Bois: The 1920s
    Check out Richard Armstrong's essay in the Whitney Museum of American Art's exhibition catalogue available through the Internet Archive.

  • Mr. and Mrs. Chester Dale Dine Out (1924)
    Read this art-lover's blog and see how Guy Pène Du Bois painted his patrons sharing an evening meal. (Oil on canvas, 30 x 40in. Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Chester Dale, 63.138.1)

  • Life (June 20, 1949)
    Look through this 1949 Life magazine feature on Guy Pène Du Bois.