Indian Girl (Julianita)

Robert Henri (American, 1865-1929)

Currently on View in K205
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The bright Navajo blanket lends a bold structure to this composition.

Indian Girl was painted during a summer Henri spent in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Henri was the leader of the Ashcan School, an East Coast group known for their gritty urban realism.

Urban Realism

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. Every summer Henri took trips to searching for subject matter.

Henri spent the summers of 1916, 1917 and 1922 in Santa Fe, New Mexico where he painted 30 portraits. He commented on his reasons for focusing on Native American figures, “I was not interested in these people to mourn that we have destroyed the Indian. I am only seeking to capture what I have discovered in a few of the people.” Indian Girl was painted during one of the artist’s three summers in Santa Fe. In this work, Henri departed from his usual dark, indistinct, dark backdrop, using a bright Indian blanket that lends a bold structure to his composition.


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

Robert Henri (American, 1865-1929)
creation date
about 1917
oil on canvas
32 x 26 in.
39 x 33 in. (framed)
accession number
credit line
Gift of Mrs. John N. Carey
Public Domain
American Painting and Sculpture to 1945

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