Guy Pène du Bois (1884–1958), Portrait of Marian Bouché

Posted on July 22nd, 2014 by

Portrait of Marian BouchéGuy Pène du Bois (1884–1958)
Portrait of Marian Bouché, c. 1939
Mixed media on paper, 12 x 10 inches
Gift from the Strong Family

Pène du Bois was known for his portraits, including ones of people involved in the art world, such as patrons, artists, and others. Among these is a depiction, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, of his supporters, the wealthy art collectors Chester and Maud Dale, who at one time had an option on all of the artist’s work and whom he accompanied on an art buying excursion in Paris. This portrait is also from the art world and is closely personal to the artist. Marian Bouché was the wife of artist Louis Bouché (1996–1969) and their daughter, Jane, was for a time married to Pène du Bois’ son William. The artist once indicated that painting people from memory amused him. As Pène du Bois scholar Betsy Fahlman has noted, though he sometimes chafed at being restricted to paint a convincing likeness, the artist could produce memorable images when inspired. This fine portrait presents an appealing depiction of the elegant Mrs. Bouché, deftly depicting her fine, strong features, which are known also through a sketch of the Bouchés made probably in the 1920s by artist Peggy Bacon (1895–1987) and a photograph of the couple in the Archives of American Art taken outside of their home in Old Chatham, New York, around 1950. In Pène du Bois’ portrait, rich colors are used for a vital effect, with the red lipstick highlighting the subject’s full mouth and relating to the color of her sweater, which has touches of relatively thick pigment that is also used for the highlights of Mrs. Bouché’s hair. This work was exhibited at Kraushaar Galleries, though it was not for sale and remained in the family’s possession. It is the most recent acquisition of the Museum, a donation in January of this year from the Estate of Jane Bouché Strong (whose mother it depicts), donor in 2006 of the painting Antiques, Route 9-W by her father, Louis.

Text from the catalogue for the exhibition The Eight, The Ashcan School, and The American Scene in the Hillstrom Collection, presented in the Hillstrom Museum of Art February 25 through April 21, 2013.


Comments are closed.