"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Maud Dale

This 1919 portrait of Maud Murray Dale (Mrs. Chester Dale) hangs in the Founders Room in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.
Born in Rochester, New York, Maud Dale (1875–1953) studied art in Paris and in 1911 married the stockbroker Chester Dale. She encouraged her husband to become an avid art collector, and by the mid-1920s the Dales had assembled one of the largest and most important private collections of modern art in the United States. Chester Dale later said: “She loved the paintings, I did all the buying.”
Maud Dale commissioned George Bellows to paint her portrait in the spring of 1919, but he struggled with the task for a variety of reasons and eventually destroyed the picture. She openly criticized it and complained that the artist was “a bit vulgar, a bit too loud.” When Bellows spent that summer in Middletown, Rhode Island, the Dales were vacationing in nearby Newport. Maud Dale was determined to have her likeness satisfactorily painted and prevailed upon her husband to commission two new portraits for a total of $3,000. The Gallery’s portrait is one of two likenesses that Bellows painted in his Middletown studio. The portrait conveys a strong sense of the sitter’s powerful personality and confirms one art historian’s statement that “very few people, including her husband, argued long with Maud Dale.” -- NGA 

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