Jacques-Emile Blanche

French (1861–1942)

Contemplation

1883

Oil on canvas

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Wally Bishop

1980.15

A socialite, writer, and artist, Blanche is most noted for uniting earlier traditions of portraiture  with the subtly modulated approach of Edouard Manet and the Impressionists. Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, and Henry James are among his most celebrated sitters. Blanche received no formal training aside from a few lessons with Henri Gervex and Ferdinand Humbert.

Contemplation reflects the early influences of Tissot and his mentor, Manet. Blanche shares Manet’s painterly brushwork, subtle palette, and perhaps also the model in this particular case. She gazes out at us in a reverie, the pose and still life elements breaking up the gridded structure of the composition. Perhaps a memorial to Manet who died that year, Contemplation has been considered Blanche’s finest work.

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