DescriptionFREDERICK WILLIAM MACMONNIES (American, 1863-1937)
The Mask, 1902
Oil on canvas
50 x 83 inches (127 x 210.8 cm)
Signed lower right: Frederick MacMonnies
Marjorie MacMonnies Young;
Post Road Gallery, Larchmont, New York;
Private collection, New York
EXHIBITED: Durand-Ruel, 1903, no. 16
M. Smart, A Flight with Fame: The Life and Art of Frederick MacMonnies, Madison, 1906, pp. 208, 325.
MacMonnies flourished during the artistic renaissance of America's Gilded Age. His formal training at the National Academy of Design, the Cooper Union, the Art Students League, and the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris familiarized MacMonnies with the great works of previous generations, and enabled him to respond to European masterpieces with a uniquely American voice.
The Mask is reminiscent of Edouard Manet's Olympia of 1863, but in it MacMonnies has nearly inverted the meaning of Manet's painting. He returned his female nude to the established classical standard, idealizing her. Unlike Olympia, this female nude smiles at the bouquet of flowers being presented to her and is physically available to the advances of the male caller. She has removed her mask and is completely exposed before us, her right leg and the cascade of sheets spilling forward in obvious invitation. According to family legend, The Mask debuted at the 1903 Durand-Ruel show, but the painting stirred so much controversy prior to the opening that was shown only to gentleman in a separate room.
Estimate: $20,000 - $30,000.
Surface dirt, original canvas, otherwise good condition.
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