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Walter MacEwen (1860–1943)

Girl Standing with Book

APG 21303D

c. 1900–20

WALTER MACEWEN (1860–1943), "Girl Standing with Book," about 1900–20. Oil on canvas, 34 1/2 x 24 in
WALTER MACEWEN (1860–1943), "Girl Standing with Book," about 1900–20. Oil on canvas, 34 1/2 x 24 in. Showing gilded Arts & Crafts style frame.


WALTER MACEWEN (1860–1943)
Girl Standing with Book, about 1900–20
Oil on canvas, 34 1/2 x 24 in.
Signed (at lower right): W M’Ewen

EX COLL.: Mr. Carl August Egli, Valbella, Switzerland; private collection, until 2000; to sale, Christie’s New York, June 15, 2000, lot 61; to [Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York]; to private collection, New York, 2000 until the present

Although renowned for his canvases of multiple figures, MacEwen was also known as a successful painter of portraits and costume scenes. There is a good possibility that the present work, Girl Standing with Book, was initially intended as a portrait. Standing in a frontal pose and gazing directly at the viewer, the subject wears a simple dress. Her hair is carefully done with a bow at the top of her head and the hint of another on the back of her neck. She holds a straw boater hat hanging by its long ribbon tie across her right forearm. She holds open a book, a timeless symbol of education and refinement. MacEwen illuminates the figure in characteristic strong light from above, casting shadows over the lower half of her body. The folds, ruffles, and other details are carefully and masterfully rendered, as are the details of her beautiful face. Particularly wonderful is the background, which, with its salmon color and repeating decorative key details, shows the influence of the aesthetic movement. This beautiful piece glows with light and color, idealizing the lovely young girl while maintaining a realistic portrayal of her likeness.

As with many of MacEwen’s portraits, this work is difficult to date because of the artist’s fondness for nostalgic period dress. The girl here wears clothing associated with the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, in retrospect the halcyon years before the trauma of World War I.

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