Thomas Hovenden, Studies of a Breton Woman

Graphite on paper
Credit Line
Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Mr. Stiles Tuttle Colwill, 2018
11 ½ in. x 16 ½ in.

Thomas Hovenden made this study of a Breton woman during his three-year stay in the French village of Pont-Aven in the late 1870s. The woman appears three times in the sketch, rendered with varying degrees of detail. 

The largest of the figures, the one farthest to the left, is a detailed drawing of the woman wearing traditional dress. She is seated with her right foot propped on a step and her arms wrapped around her knee. Dark shading illustrates every fold of her heavy skirt, which hides any suggestion of her body underneath. The smaller form in the middle exactly mirrors the position of the first one. However, the face is an empty oval with no features. The third figure lacks a clearly defined body or costume. Instead, the hollow oval of her face and suggestion of her bonnet is surrounded by a blur of furious shading, creating a messy rendering of her skirts.

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