Alice Gerson depicts a genre scene of a woman caught in a leisurely moment of quiet reflection. The sitter glances away in an engaging partial silhouette. The rust colored velvet of the bench she sits on contrasts the vibrant pinks in the background creating visual weight to the scene. Pastel tones and quick brushstrokes accent her femininity. The woman poses with a flower bouquet gingerly placed on her lap, turning her attention away from the viewer in a coy manner. William Merritt Chase’s painting was aptly named for Alice Gerson who became his wife a few years after the work was finished.
Speed of execution was a primary concern to Chase; for him, portraits were to be done in one sitting, landscapes were to be done directly outdoors, and his demonstration nudes were to be completed in a single class. His technique with the pastel medium and bold use of color would go on to influence later generations of artists who were interested in the effects of changing light in nature. Chase had a long and distinguished career and was recognized as the premier American pastel painter working in the late nineteenth century.
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