2 More

Henry McBride on Winslow Homer

Stettheimer, F.
Henry McBride on Winslow Homer
mixed media and collage on paper with a printed reproduction
10 ½ x 8 ½ in. (26.7 x 21.6 cm.)
Executed circa 1924.
The artist.
Joseph Solomon, New York, gift from the above.
By descent to the late owner.
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Florine Stettheimer: Manhattan Fantastica, July 13-November 5, 1995, pp. 86, 139, illustrated.
Further Details
This work will be included in Barbara Bloemink’s forthcoming catalogue raisonné of works by Florine Stettheimer.
Sale Room Notice
Please note this work has been requested for loan to an exhibition at Wrightwood 659 in Chicago scheduled for May-August 2025.

Brought to you by

Paige Kestenman
Paige Kestenman Vice President, Specialist

Check the condition report or get in touch for additional information about this

Sign in
View Condition Report

Lot Essay

During the early decades of the twentieth century many artists on both sides of the Atlantic, from Gertrude Stein to Charles Demuth, explored the idea of portraiture and identity, often using visual correlatives and symbols to imply likeness or personality traits. Florine Stettheimer herself painted seventeen innovative portrait paintings of friends and family members during the 1920s, in which she surrounded images of the sitter with elements reflecting their interests and personality.

Henry McBride, known as the “dean of art critics,” wrote for both the New York Sun and the Dial during the 1920s and 30s. Highly influential, he was particularly supportive of artists including Stettheimer and members of the Stieglitz Circle whom he felt represented the most “American” of contemporary American art. In 1922, at one of the Stettheimers’ summer parties at Seabright cottage on the Jersey Shore, McBride “detected the artist over in one corner of the salon furtively jotting down presumably some of my lineaments but I was not permitted to see what hieroglyphics she had acquired nor how many—but there must have been few.” (H. McBride, “Florine Stettheimer, A Reminiscence,” The Flow of Art: Essays and Criticism, New Haven, Connecticut, 1997, p. 45) In the resulting Portrait of Henry McBride (1922, Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Massachusetts), motifs reflecting his favorite artists, including John Marin, Charles Demuth, Gaston Lachaise and Stettheimer, fill the composition. As McBride noted, “Up above, in the sky and elsewhere, were references to my aesthetic preoccupations, such as the celebrated palm-tree watercolor by Winslow Homer…” (Letter from Henry McBride to Robert McAdam, 1922, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.)

As Barbara Bloemink describes, "Stettheimer focused the central area of her portrait of fifty-year-old art critic Henry McBride on his image as a well-preserved dandy with a healthy sense of self-importance, vanity, and egotism. She parodied his vocation by picturing him as the judge at a tennis tournament…Each quadrant represents another facet of his life—as sports fan, farmer, defender of nineteenth-century American art, and admirer of new tendencies in modern art. Tiny personifications of McBride can be seen…staring out at a Winslow Homer-like sea at upper right, and gazing on various examples of contemporary art at upper left." (Florine Stettheimer: Manhattan Fantastica, exhibition catalogue, New York, 1995, pp. 86-87)

In the present work, Stettheimer continues in this satirical vein, painting a dapper, black-coated Henry McBride on top of a reproduction of Winslow Homer's watercolor Palm Tree, Nassau (1898, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). At the top of the tree, a miniature version of McBride waves two flags—an iconography Stettheimer would repeat in her famed Cathedrals of Art (1942, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York). In the later work, McBride waves either STOP or GO to designate which artists shall be allowed in the Met's doors or not. Here, McBride appears to be waving the American flag, emphasizing his support of traditional American painters such as Homer. In this way, the title Henry McBride on Winslow Homer is a play on words, both depicting the critic literally on top of a quintessential Homer seascape, while also conveying McBride's supportive stance on Homer's art.

Stettheimer’s famous portrait subjects also include photographer and dealer Alfred Stieglitz (1928, Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas), composer Virgil Thomson (1930, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois), author Joseph Hergesheimer (1923, Yale Collection of American Literature, New Haven, Connecticut), author and critic Carl Van Vechten (1922, Yale Collection of American Literature), photographer Baron de Meyer (1923, Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, Maryland), muralist Louis Bouché (1923, Heckscher Museum of Art, Huntington, New York) and the artist’s mother (1925, Museum of Modern Art, New York).

The present work was gifted by Florine Stettheimer to Joseph Solomon, the artist’s attorney in New York City, and has descended in his family until the present day.

More from Modern American Art

View All
View All