Bell was known for his soft, languid depictions of idealized leisure class women.
Here, a sparsely decorated room draws attention to the figure and statue.
Bell drew his inspiration from figure studies and portraits by William M. Chase and James A. M. Whistler.
The Influence of Japanese Aesthetics
Edward August Bell was born in New York and studied art with his father. Later, he took classes with William Merritt Chase and Walter Shirlaw at the Art Students League. He often painted pieces that were compared to his teacher Chase. In the 1890s, Bell began painting idealized women of the leisure class, using a soft palette of colors. Drawing inspiration from Chase and James Abbott McNeil Whistler, he often added Japanese motifs to his figure studies.
This painting exemplifies Bell’s figure studies in its portrayal of a seated elegant woman, who is contemplating a small statue. Dressed in a long diaphanous gown, the woman occupies a sparsely furnished room that is almost devoid of decoration. This simplified composition is reminiscent of the scenes of court ladies in Japanese painting.