Joseph T. Pearson Jr., Emily

Joseph T. Pearson, Jr.: Emily (1906) Oil on canvas
Oil on canvas
Credit Line
Purchased with funds provided by the Verna Stein Estate and an anonymous donor, 1999
7' 7" x 48"

A leading instructor in the arts in Philadelphia, Pearson depicts his wife Emily Fetter, her clothing appearing to dissolve into the painting's background. Her face and hands, her fan, the bottom edge of her skirt, and her slipper seem to emerge from the darkness behind her. Pearson was inspired by the work of painter James Abbott McNeill Whistler, whose six Nocturnes encouraged a generation of American artists to experiment with the mysterious and subtle effects of dark compositions.

Pearson was born and lived, along with Emily and their seven children, in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia. He attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts from 1897 to 1900, studying under William Merritt Chase and J. Alden Weir, and later taught there for twenty-five years. 

 After Emily’s death in 1948, Pearson married fellow artist Alice Kent Stoddard; both were dedicated volunteers at Woodmere


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