DescriptionEVERETT SHINN (American 1876-1953)
Curtain Call, 1925
Oil on canvas
9-1/4 x 11-1/4 inches (23 x 29 cm)
Signed and dated lower left: E. Shinn/1925
Tullah and Thomas Edward Hanley (Bradford, PA);
William Benton (Connecticut);
Gallery of Modern Art, New York, Selections from the Collection of Dr. and Mrs. T. Edward Hanley, January 3 - March 12, 1967;
Berry-Hill Galleries, New York, The Spectacle of Life, November 29, 2000 - January 13, 2001
Janay Wong, Everett Shinn: The Spectacle of Life (New York: Berry-Hill Galleries, 2000), pp. 86-87, 167 (reproduced);
Janay Wong, "Curtain Call", entry in American Paintings IX, (New York: Berry-Hill Galleries, 2001), pp. 98-99 (reproduced)
Shinn's portrayals of the theater provide some of his most visually spectacular pictures and reveal a life-long fascination with the stage that went beyond the role of mere observer. An active participant in his own productions, he was also on friendly terms with several actors and actresses. Around 1910, after receiving a commission to paint 22 x 45 foot murals for Trenton City Hall, Shinn built a large studio behind his Waverly Place residence. The studio also doubled as a theater which included crimson curtains, a proscenium, and a perfectly equipped miniature stage. Home to 'The Waverly Street Players', an amateur theater group, which included the Shinns, the Glackenses, Jimmy Preston, and David Belasco's assistant, Wilfred Buckland, the theater had the character of a private club for friends. For the performances, Shinn wrote three four act melodramas: The Prune Hater's Daughter, More Sinned Against than Usual, and Wronged from the Star. Shinn first exhibited representations of the theater in 1899 when he showed Scene - Julia Marlowe, Fourteenth Street Theater, and Interior Keith's at the home of his friend Elsie de Wolfe. Following his trip to Europe in 1900, theater pictures appear with increasing frequency culminating in the eight paintings of performers on stage shown in the landmark exhibition of The Eight at William Macbeth's Gallery in February 1908.
Curtain Call most likely a represents a Vaudeville performance, which, by 1900, was America's unrivaled leader in the world of entertainment. Shinn was particularly attracted to the Vaudeville stage and portrayed it numerous times in well-known paintings such as Keith's Union Square (c. 1906, The Brooklyn Museum of Art) and The Orchestra Pit, Old Proctor's Fifth Avenue Theater (c. 1906-07, Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur G. Altschul). In Curtain Call a slender female performer holds a parasol in one hand and extends her arms gracefully to crisscross the arm of her male partner forming an undulating line. The pairing of a male and female dancer is unusual for Shinn, who typically depicted only female dancers. Here he seems to appreciate the juxtaposition of opposites - male beside female and dark against light. Unlike his earlier, more rounded figures, the dancers featured here are slender with long limbs. Contemporary fashion favored tall, thin figures, a trend that is reflected in the artist's paintings and illustrations for this period. In the background, the scenery is painted with a verdant wooded landscape recalling the style of Jean-Antoine Watteau or Jean-Honoré Fragonard. The palette is jewel-like, consisting of crimson red, emerald green, gleaming white.
The origin of Curtain Call can be traced to The Vaudeville Act(1902-03), The Palmer Museum), which itself is a version (perhaps earlier) of a painting illustrated in the original exhibition catalogue of The Eight. The Vaudeville Act, with its well-rendered performers and their placement on stage before a green, painted backdrop, looks forward to Curtain Call. The same red trousers and white dress appear, but in the later picture the dress has been transformed into a delicate tutu revealing the dancer's long tapering legs. In Curtain Call, the dance is livelier, evoking the spirit of the roaring twenties. Another significant difference is the absence of the orchestra pit. Beginning around 1910, Shinn started occasionally to crop the compositions of his theater pictures, eliminating the audience and orchestra pit in favor of a close-up view of the performers on stage.
Condition report available upon request.
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