Lot 108
  • 108

Robert Henri 1865 - 1929

300,000 - 500,000 USD
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  • Robert Henri
  • Bridgeen
  • signed Robert Henri on the reverse
  • oil on canvas
  • 24 by 20 1/8 inches
  • (61 by 51.1 cm)
  • Painted in 1927.


Dr. A. Wesley, New York, 1976
Owen Gallery, New York
Acquired by the present owner from the above


New York, Owen Gallery, American Paintings, Summer 1995, illustrated on announcement card
Greensburg, Pennsylvania, The Westmoreland Museum of American Art, Face to Face: 20th Century Portraits, September-October 2000


This work is in very good condition. The canvas is unlined. Under UV: there are a few dots of inpainting along the top edge.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Robert Henri first traveled to Ireland in the summer of 1913, accompanied by his wife Marjorie, a Dublin native.  The couple settled on Achill Island, in the far west off the coast of County Mayo.  The couple rented Corrymore House, built by Captain Charles Cunningham Boycott, the land agent whose actions roused the form of popular resistance that still bears his name.  Despite an inspired summer, Henri did not return to Ireland until 1924, kept away by World War I and straitened finances.  A 1923 legacy from Henri's mother provided the funds for an extended European tour.  The trip also coincided with the publication of The Art Spirit, a compendium of Henri's teaching advice that continues to instruct art students to the present day. 

When the Henris returned to Achill Island in the spring of 1924, they discovered that Corrymore was available for sale. In a letter to a friend, Henri wrote: "Buying was of course out of the question, we being near the end of our string–so we bought it" (quoted in William Inness Homer, Robert Henri and His Circle, New York, 1988, p. 207).  The house remained their summer home for the rest of Henri's life as the people of Achill Island provided rich subject matter for his work. 

In 1915, Henri explained his commitment to portraiture in the pages of The Craftsman:  “The people I like to paint are 'my people,' whoever they may be, wherever they may exist, the people through whom dignity of life is manifest, that is, who are in some way expressing themselves naturally along the lines nature intended for them” (quoted in Henri, The Art Spirit, New York, 1923, p. 143).  Wherever he went, Henri, who was childless himself, painted children, finding in them the spirit, spontaneity and honesty he so valued.  The children of Achill Island were no exception and Henri took many of them as his subjects including the blond-haired, blue-eyed Bridgeen.   In The Art Spirit Henri urged, "Feel the dignity of a child. Do not feel superior…for you are not" (Ibid., p. 271).

In the present work, the vivacious young girl looks confidently at the viewer, her messy curls and rosy cheeks hinting that her composure of facial expression and pose are merely a façade.  Henri employs characteristically robust brushwork throughout the composition and sets the figure against an abstract background of color and texture. 

Regarding Henri's juvenile models, fellow artist John Sloan recalled: "If one has a love of children as human beings, and realizes the greatness that is in them, no better subjects for painting can be found. The majority of people patronize children, look down on them rather than up to them, think they are 'sweet,' when in reality it is children that have not yet been buried under the masses of little habits, conventions and details which burden most grown-ups" (Robert Henri and His Circle, Ithaca, New York, 1969, p. 207).