Robert Henri began his career at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where he studied a curriculum designed by Thomas Eakins and Thomas Anshutz. From these artists he inherited a willingness to engage directly with the unique qualities and imperfections of his subjects. After a trip to Paris, Henri began to incorporate the visual effects of Impressionism into his images, which resulted in a highly original style of painting that represented the modern world with truth and vitality.
Can a portrait capture someone’s mind?
When this portrait was painted, Marjorie Organ Henri had been married to the artist for less than two years. “O,” as Henri called her, was a successful cartoonist for the New York Journal, and her caricatures appeared regularly in print. This portrait challenged the conventions of society portraiture; posing her against a dark background, the artist’s psychological realism presents her as independent, confident, and self-possessed—the very model of the period’s “New Woman.”
Museum purchase, gift of the M.H. de Young Museum Society from funds donated by the Charles E. Merrill Trust