Thomas Hovenden, Study of a Standing Moroccan Figure

Graphite on paper
Credit Line
Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Mr. Stiles Tuttle Colwill, 2018
13 in. x 9 1/2 in.

This study of a Moroccan figure stands out among Thomas Hovenden’s works because the artist has no known paintings of Moroccan subject matter. The drawing most likely was a sketch he made not as a study for a painting, but rather as a drawing exercise.

After his three years in the Brittany village of Pont-Aven, Hovenden spent time in Paris in 1878 working on drawings and paintings of models in costumes. His friend Milne Ramsey (1847–1915), an American painter, had a collection of props, furniture, and period costumes. Ramsey painted a piece titled Berbère, a reference to the Berber people who live in North Africa, including Morocco. Hovenden might have made this drawing from a model wearing a Moroccan costume he found in Ramsey’s collection.

The figure wears a flowy striped robe, belted at the waist, shoes with pointed toes, and a headdress. His left arm rests at his hip while his right hand delicately holds a long pipe that stretches from his fingers to his pursed lips.

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