Sophistication

Sophistication is a typical example of Harry Willson Watrous’s numerous relatively large paintings of attractive women made between 1905 and around 1918. These women, many with the same red hair as this model, often wear dark clothing and pose in profile against a light background. This contrast and the close viewpoint emphasize shape and contour rather than perspective, although Watrous by no means abandons modeling. The women of this series sport fashionable garb; the svelte lines of this model are enhanced by the mannish suit that came into fashion in the 1890s. The feathered hat complements her graceful silhouette, as does the elegant chair, while the almost primitive paintings on the wall behind her act as a witty foil. This painting is as modern as Watrous dared to be.

Located in the Haggin Gallery

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