Thomas Hovenden, Study of a Seated Woman in Gown

Graphite on paper
Credit Line
Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Mr. Stiles Tuttle Colwill, 2018
18 in. x 14 ½ in.

This pencil drawing gives a glimpse into Thomas Hovenden’s studio and the ways in which he dressed and posed his models. During his time in France, from 1874 until 1880—first in the Breton village of Pont-Aven and then in Paris—Hovenden worked with models to create drawings like this one. 

The model for this study dressed in a lavish gown and holds a delicate fan. She was posed in a chair with a curtain draped in the background. The artist carefully arranged her gown’s heavy skirts to form sumptuous folds. The gown’s details, such as the puffed sleeves, the ruffled fabric outlining her décolletage, and the long trail of buttons, suggest that it was used for a history painting. It was probably one of the costumes Hovenden used while working in Paris in 1878. Helen Corson, who Hovenden later married, wore a  similar gown when she modeled for the painting Faint Heart Never Won Fair Lady, also in the Woodmere’s collection.

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