- Robert Henri
- signed Robert Henri (lower right); signed Robert Henri and inscribed with the artist's record book number (on the reverse)
- oil on canvas
- 24 by 20 inches
- (61 by 50.8 cm)
- Painted in late September or early October of 1925 on Achill Island, Corrymore, Ireland. The subject is probably Thomas MacNamara.
Private Collection, Minnesota
Ronnie Meyerson, Inc., Bayville, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1991
Henri had first turned his artistic focus to portraiture as early as 1900 (concurrent to his joining William Merritt Chase on the faculty of the New York School of Art), but, these portraits were not nearly as successful as his earlier Parisian street scenes.
Nevertheless, he remained committed to developing a distinct style of realism which most effectively communicated the individual character of his sitters. The children Henri encountered in the local villages in Ireland and New Mexico possessed an unconventional aesthetic beauty that proved irresistible to an artist striving to capture the purest essence of his sitters and their unaffected dispositions.
MacNamara, painted by Henri in Ireland in 1925, epitomizes both the delight the artist derived from his subject, as well as the unique and vibrant style he had developed for his portraits. An early admirer of the seventeenth century masters, Henri had, by this point in his career, assimilated the energetic brushwork of Frans Hals and the dramatic use of light and dark shadows of Rembrandt into his own singular technique. Selectively incorporating these devices, Henri, captured the subtle and distinctive personalities of his sitters. MacNamara's eyes look past the viewer with a subdued calm, while his hands rest quietly in his lap. The portrait gracefully articulates the charm Henri clearly perceived in this beguiling Irish boy.
Lot 35 is illustrated as a frontispiece of this catalogue.