Thomas Hovenden, Studies for "The Favorite Falcon"
Thomas Hovenden made careful studies of a figure and hands for his 1879 painting The Favorite Falcon, now at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. At the time he was courting his future wife, fellow artist Helen Corson, whom he had met in Pont-Aven, France. When the two moved to Paris in the winter of 1878, Hovenden began to paint historical paintings and scenes of courtly love.
In The Favorite Falcon, a cavalier (modeled by Hovenden) shows his prize falcon to his lady (modeled by Corson). They hold hands and gaze up, smiling at the bird. The painting features final versions of several of the sketches here: Corson’s seated figure in her costume with large, puffy sleeves; her free hand resting at the side of her skirt; and the couple’s intertwined hands.