Image Resources | Currently on View in Christel DeHaan Family Foundation Galleries (K205)

Edna Smith in a Japanese Wrap

Robert Henri (American, 1865-1929)


This painting of professional model Edna Smith is typical of Henri's ability to capture his subject's spirit.

The rich hues of this image show Henri's use of Hardesty Maratta's color system.

Henri is known primarily for his portraits and figure studies.

Urban Realism

Robert Henri

Edna Smith in a Japanese Wrap, about 1915

oil on canvas

20 x 24 in.

Gift in memory of John P. Frenzel, Sr., by his heirs

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Robert Henri was born Robert Henry Cozad in Cincinnati, Ohio.  When Henri was ten years old, his father, a gambler and real estate promoter, shot someone in self defense.  The family feared for their safety, moved to Atlantic City, New Jersey, changed their name and passed their two sons off as adopted children.  Robert Henri chose a variation on his middle name as his surname and attended boarding school in New York City.  He received his art training at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and then attended the Academy Julian in Paris.  After spending several years in Europe, Henri taught at the Chase School of Art and the New York School of Art where he led a fight against Academic views.  In 1909, Henri established his own school and organized “The Eight,” a group of artists that rejected the restraints from the National Academy of Design.  The Eight favored a style that portrayed contemporary everyday life.  Five members of this group, including Henri, became known as the Ashcan School because of their depictions of the seedy side of life.  Henri favored portraits of ordinary people, while the remainder of the group focused primarily on everyday street scenes.

This portrait of professional model Edna Smith is typical of Henri’s ability to capture his subject’s spirit.  Around 1909, Henri adopted the color system of theorist Hardesty Maratta, which assigns a letter and number to 144 harmonically related colors.  Painters could use the system of letters and number to carefully plan the color relationships of their paintings.  The rich harmonies of this image based on red and green show Henri’s use of the Maratta system.

Reference

William Innes Homer. Robert Henri and His Circle, New York: Hacker Art Books, 1988. ISBN-13: 978-0878173266

Robert Henri. The Art Spirit, New York Harper & Row 1923, reprinted by Basic Books, 2007. ISBN-13: 978-0465002634

Object Information

artist
Robert Henri (American, 1865-1929)
creation date
about 1915
materials
oil on canvas
dimensions
20 x 24 in.
34 x 30 in. (framed)
accession number
73.105.2
credit line
Gift in memory of John P. Frenzel, Sr., by his heirs
copyright
Public Domain
collection
American Painting and Sculpture to 1945
colors