Edith Neff, Triptych

Oil on canvas
Credit Line
Gift of Dr. Maria B. Smith, 2012
Left panel: 42 x 28 in.; Center panel: 42 x 34 in.; Right panel: 42 x 28 in.

Triptych consists of three portraits of the artist’s mother, Ruth. The first is derived from a photograph taken when she was about ten or twelve years old in Russia. It was staged at a professional studio because her brother, who had already come to the United States, missed her so much he asked for a photograph. The second is of Ruth in middle age. Now a mother, she appears as an assimilated American woman. Neff painted this from a photograph taken during a trip to New York City in the 1940s. A red-haired Neff is at her mother’s side, charging toward the viewer. The third shows Ruth as an older woman, her arm entwined with that of her own mother.

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