Edna Smith in a Japanese Wrap

Robert Henri (American, 1865-1929)

Currently on View in K205
Image Licensing

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.

Curatorial Summary

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, fearing 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. 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 Philadelphia School of Design for Women and the Chase School of Art (later 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 restraints from the National Academy of Design. The Eight favored portrayals of 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 numbers 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.


Homer, William Innes. Robert Henri and His Circle. New York: Hacker Art Books, 1988.

Object Information

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

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