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Robert Torchia, “George Bellows/Anne with a Japanese Parasol/1917,” American Paintings, 1900–1945, NGA Online Editions, https://purl.org/nga/collection/artobject/61351 (accessed October 16, 2018).

 

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Overview

Though George Bellows established his fame by capturing the almost entirely male world of New York’s boxing clubs, he spent the second half of his career surrounded by and frequently painting women. After his marriage to Emma Story in 1910 and the births of their two daughters, Anne and Jean, he lived in an all-female household that often included his Aunt Elinor and his mother, Anna. Bellows’s depictions of women came to rival, in both their variety and ambition, his more famous boxing scenes.

Among the most successful of Bellows’s many portraits of his family are those of his eldest daughter, Anne, which he painted from her infancy until September 1923, a little over a year before his premature death in January 1925. Anne with a Japanese Parasol was completed in Camden, Maine, in September 1917, when Anne was six years old. The previous year Bellows had represented his daughter holding a plainer, more generic closed parasol in Anne with Her Parasol (1916, private collection). Open on the floor, the decorative, more sophisticated type featured in Anne with a Japanese Parasol was a popular fashion accessory among upper-class women during the second half of the 19th and early 20th centuries. It may have been meant to evoke Anne’s burgeoning imagination and self-awareness.

Entry

In this richly colored, broadly rendered, full-length portrait, six-year-old Anne Bellows stands on a mauve carpet holding an open Japanese parasol in her right hand and a small purse in her left.[1] She looks forthrightly at the viewer with her wide-set blue-gray eyes. Anne is posed against a blue background, and a green curtain hangs at the right. The purple flowers at her left may signify the freshness of youth. Anne with a Japanese Parasol was completed in September 1917 in Camden, Maine, where the Bellows family summered. In his Record Book, Bellows, apparently in error since no leaves are shown, assigned the painting the subtitle Autumn Leaves and Purple.

The previous year Bellows had painted Anne with Her Parasol (1916, private collection), in which he represented his daughter, this time seated in a chair, clasping the handle of a closed parasol with both hands.[2] The painting’s title indicates that the parasol was not merely a studio prop but a personal possession that Anne herself actually used. In contrast, the decorative, more sophisticated type featured open on the floor in Anne with a Japanese Parasol may suggest that Anne’s imagination and self-awareness were expanding—that she was growing up. Parasols, especially Japanese ones, were fashionable accessories for well-to-do women during the second half of the 19th and early 20th centuries. They frequently appear in paintings by the French impressionists, for example Claude Monet’s Woman with a Parasol - Madame Monet and Her Son, and their American counterparts, most notably Frederick Frieseke. Bellows would have been aware of these precedents. His ongoing interest in the decorative qualities of Japanese objects was again evident in his next portrait of his daughter, Anne in White (1920, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA), which features a brightly colored and patterned fan.

Though George Bellows established his fame by capturing the almost entirely male world of New York’s boxing clubs, he spent the second half of his career surrounded by and frequently painting women. After his marriage to Emma Story in 1910 and the births of their two daughters, Anne and Jean, he lived in an all-female household that often included his Aunt Elinor and his mother, Anna. Over the last half of his abbreviated career Bellows’s depictions of women came to rival, in both their variety and scope, his more famous boxing scenes.[3] That ambition is apparent in the range of images he devoted to Anne, from My Baby in October 1912 (private collection) to the brilliant family portrait Emma and Her Children (1923, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), completed just over a year before Bellows’s premature death at the age of 42 in 1925.[4]

Robert Torchia

August 17, 2018

Inscription

lower right in red: Geo Bellows; upper left in dark blue: Geo Bellows

Provenance

The artist [1882-1925]; by inheritance to his wife, Emma S. Bellows [1884-1959]; her estate; purchased June 1964 through (H.V. Allison & Co., New York) by Paul Mellon, Upperville, Virginia; gift 1983 to NGA.

Exhibition History
1917
Carson, Pirie and Scott Gallery, Chicago, 1917 [a commercial gallery, according to the artist's Record Book].
1917
Hill Tollerton, San Francisco, 1917 [a commercial gallery, according to the artist's Record Book].
1917
Oakland Art Museum, California, 1917 [according to the artist's Record Book].
1918
Exhibition of Paintings by George Bellows, Gallery of Fine Arts and Art Association of Columbus, Ohio, January-February 1918, no. 4, as Anne.
1918
Twenty-Fifth Annual Exhibition of American Art, Cincinnati Art Museum, May-July 1918, no. 32, as Anne.
1919
An Exhibition of Oil Paintings by George Bellows, N.A. and Mural Paintings and Drawings by Violet Oakley, Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, December 1919, no. 11.
1919
Exhibition of Paintings by George Bellows, M. Knoedler & Co., New York, March-April 1919, no. 2 or no. 18, as Anne.
1919
Paintings by George Bellows, Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, September-October 1919, no. 11.
1919
Paintings by George Bellows, Art Institute of Chicago, November-December 1919, no. 11.
1919
Springfield, Illinois, 1919 [according to the artist's Record Book].
1919
Thirteenth Annual Exhibition of Selected Paintings by American Artists and a Group of Small Selected Bronzes by American Sculptors, Albright Art Gallery, Buffalo, May-September 1919, no. 2, repro., as Portrait of Anne.
1919
Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York, 1919 [according to the artist's Record Book].
1920
The Twenty-Second Annual Exhibition of Paintings by American Artists, The Art Club of Erie at the Public Library, Erie, Pennsylvania, 1920, no. 11 [incorrectly listed as 1919 in the artist's Record Book].
1942
Paintings by George Bellows, H.V. Allison & Co., New York, 1942, unnumbered checklist, as Anne with a Parasol.
1962
George Bellows, H.V. Allison & Co., New York, 1962, no. 13.
1964
George Bellows, H.V. Allison & Co., New York, 1964, no. 11.
1986
Gifts to the Nation: Selected Acquisitions from the Collections of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1986, unnumbered checklist.
Technical Summary

The fine, plain-weave fabric support has been lined with a fabric similar to that of the painting using an aqueous adhesive and mounted on a nonoriginal stretcher. The bottom tacking margin has been flattened to expand the painting by 3 cm, but the others have been removed. The fabric was prepared with a white ground. The artist applied paint alla prima with vigorous, broad brushstrokes using a variety of techniques ranging from thin scumbles and glazes to high impasto. X-radiographic examination reveals that the figure was originally placed higher in the composition and that the basket of flowers was considerably lower. No underdrawing was visible in infrared examination.[1] Heavy retouching is evident along the expanded bottom tacking margin and over the pentimenti of the originally higher hat and head position. The surface is coated with a glossy, slightly discolored layer of varnish.

Bibliography
n.d.
Peck, Glenn C. George Bellows' Catalogue Raisonné. H.V. Allison & Co. URL: http://www.hvallison.com. Accessed 16 August 2016.
1929
Bellows, Emma Louise Story. The Paintings of George Bellows. New York, 1929: 72, repro.
1965
Morgan, Charles H. George Bellows. Painter of America. New York, 1965: 203, 234, 258-259.
1971
Braider, Donald. George Bellows and the Ashcan School of Painting. New York, 1971: 124, 133-134.
1992
American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 31, repro.
1992
Quick, Michael, Jane Myers, Marianne Doezema, and Franklin Kelly. The Paintings of George Bellows. Exh. cat. Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Columbus (Ohio) Museum of Art; Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, 1992-1993. New York, 1992: 213-214, repro, fig. 40.
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