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Portrait of Frances C. Houston

ca. 1880-1889 Thomas Wilmer Dewing Born: Boston, Massachusetts 1851 Died: New York, New York 1938 oil on canvas 19 5/8 x 14 1/4 in. (49.7 x 36.1 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of John Gellatly 1929.6.33 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 3rd Floor, 6A


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Portrait of Frances C. Houston

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Thomas Wilmer Dewing painted his vivacious friend in a seventeenth-century costume in the spirit of Frans Hals or Diego Velázquez, two of their favorite old masters. He wrote to the editor of Century Magazine, praising Houston's "sense of style." Dewing and Frances had studied in Paris, where both artists would have made head studies like this one. After she returned to the United States, Frances married William C. Houston, the proprietor of a Boston department store. The couple purchased property near the Dewings' summer home in Cornish, New Hampshire, where they joined in the social activities of a vibrant art colony. Houston worked in Cornish as a portrait painter and jeweler, but was also known for her impressive cooking and gardening. (Hobbs, Beauty Reconfigured: The Art of Thomas Wilmer Dewing, 1996)

Keywords

Portrait female - Houston, Frances C. - bust

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas

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