Using her posture and eye contact to draw the viewer into the painting, Louisa Fletcher models confidently in a glamorous empire-cut gown for her friend, the artist Mary Blumenschein.
The deftly rendered textures, subtle color gradations, and strong sense of personality reflect Blumenschein's skill as a portraitist.
Indianapolis-born Fletcher was recently divorced from the well-known author Booth Tarkington when she posed for this portriat. The former couple had befriended Blumenschein and her husband Ernest, also an artist, while living in Paris.
The Blumenscheins: An Artistic Couple
Mary Shephard Greene was an accomplished artist, who studied in New York City and in Paris. She won awards for her art at the Paris Salon and the St. Louis Exposition. In 1905, she married Ernest Blumenschein and returned with him to New York. She taught at the Pratt Institute, her alma mater, and provided illustrations for Century, McClure’s and American magazines concurrently. In 1913, she and her husband made their first trip to Taos, New Mexico, and in 1919, they relocated there permanently. In the 1920s, Mary returned to Paris to study jewelry making, which she pursued during her time in Taos.
Indianapolis native Louisa Fletcher and Mary Blumenschein were good friends, bound by their mutual interest in the arts. Louisa was the daughter of Indianapolis banker Stoughton Fletcher. She became the wife of Booth Tarkington in 1902. They spent the early years of their marriage in Paris, where they befriended Ernest and Mary Blumenschein. The marriage between Louisa and Booth was dissolved in 1911, a year before Mary created this image. The deftly rendered textures, subtle color graduations, and strong sense of personality reflect her abilities as a portraitist.