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A portly man, with a gaping smile and lit cigarette, sits on a delicate bench in an elegant interior. The painter, Tarkington’s friend, explained that the sitter was an out-of-work Austrian actor who had stranded himself in Paris.
The author clearly appreciated the contrast between the unemployed performer depicted in stylish surroundings and the deft application of paint, which can be seen in the superbly foreshortened hands and the reflections in the eyeglasses. Tarkington so enjoyed this portrait that he hung it in his study, proclaiming it “the best of [his] 20th-century pictures.” It was the first gift that Tarkington offered to the John Herron Art Institute, the forerunner of the Indianapolis Museum of Art.