Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice

    Description

    Thomas Wilmer Dewing (American, 1851-1938)
    Pansy Cotton (Mariette Benedict Cotton)
    Charcoal and pencil on paper
    17-3/4 x 14 inches (45.1 x 35.6 cm) (sheet)
    Initialed lower left: TWD


    PROVENANCE:
    Mariette Benedict (Mrs. Leslie Cotton), by mid-1880s;
    Hugh Cotton, son of the above, Schenectady, New York, by descent;
    Hugh Cotton, Jr., son of the above, Olympia, Washington, by descent;
    Estate of the above;
    David Schaff, Ltd., Mendenhall, Pennsylvania;
    Jill New House, New York;
    Hollis Taggart Galleries, New York;
    [With]Adelson Galleries, Inc., New York;
    Private collection, Massachusetts.

    EXHIBITED:
    Adelson Galleries, New York, "Light Impressions: American Works on Paper, 1875-1925," May 9-June 30, 2006, no. 34.

    LITERATURE:
    Adelson Galleries, Light Impressions: American Works on Paper, 1875-1925, exhibition catalogue, New York, 2006, p. 43. no. 34, illustrated.

    Dewing Scholar Dr. Susan A. Hobbes writes:

    During the mid-1870s Thomas Wilmer Dewing became known for his meticulous black-and-white charcoal portraits. His virtuosity in the medium followed a tradition established in Boston by Charles A. Barry and Samuel Worcester Rowse. These drawings were noted for a fine, realistic modeling that portrayed with care the features of the sitters. This portrait of Mariette Benedict Cotton, however, shows the impact on Dewing of a later influence--that of the English Aesthetic movement. The painters of this movement utilized shallow, foreground, stage-like settings for profile poses against intricate, patterned surfaces.

    "Dewing, similarly, employed a shallow, friezelike composition in this expressive and contemplative portrait. He silhouetted the young Mariette against a drapery, the folds of which provide a shimmering surface against which he etched her carefully defined form. A strip of pansies along the lower margin of the drawing reasserts the two-dimensional character of the drawing, further emphasizing the decorative quality of the work. The flowers also cleverly refer to Mariette herself, who was known to friends as "Pansy." Dewing obviously knew her by this nickname. In 1883 Mariette traveled from Schenectady, N.Y. to New York City where she became his student at the Art Students League; she was just sixteen years old. The next winter she worked in Paris under Carolus-Duran. Later she spent a winter in Dennis Bunker's studio in Boston, and subsequently, two more winters in New York where she studied under Abbott Handerson Thayer and William Merritt Chase.

    "In a well-known article, Chase vividly recounted his first meeting with Mariette Benedict Cotton. The young woman had come to his Tenth Street studio to present herself as a prospective pupil but, as Chase remembered, " I saw her only as a splendid model." She agreed to sit for him, and Chase painted all day and into the evening without stopping. ** The result was his famed Lady in Black (Metropolitan Museum of Art). The artist was so inspired by this new model, whom he considered a "treasure find," that he went on to paint her as Lady in Pink (Museum of the Rhode Island School of Design, 1888-89). Mariette Benedict Cotton's distinctive profile, shadowed eyes and dainty mouth are readily apparent in the Chase portrait. Dewing also emphasized these features in his portrait of the young woman.

    "When he portrayed her, however, Dewing introduced a quality of elusiveness. Shadows play fleetingly across Mariette's face, merging her profile into the drapery behind her. The result is a suggestive, intimate view of the young woman. This effect is derived in part from a calculated use of emphasis and subordination, for with a subtle play of dark and light, Dewing obscured certain features (such as lips, forehead, and chin) and highlighted others (the round cheek and ear). Lady in Yellow, Harmony in Rose and Gray and Lady in Blue, all pastels from the mid-1890s in the 1996 Dewing retrospective, similarly demonstrate the artist's penchant for casting portions of the face, such as the mouth, into shadow.

    "According to an 1892 article by the critic Mariana G. Van Rennselaer, Mariette Benedict married her fellow artist Leslie Cotton in about 1889.† She continued to paint after which she took a studio in Munich. She had first exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1889, winning honorable mention for a portrait; subsequently when she exhibited at the Royal Academy in London critics praised her portrait of a well-known Boston Brahmin. Van Rennselaer fully expected Mariette Benedict Cotton to become a favorite portrait painter with a 'fine clientele,' due to the 'vitality' of her work. This vitality may have derived in part from her own liveliness, for according to Chase, Mariette Benedict Cotton possessed a 'vivid personality.'

    "Dewing's paintings and pastels most often portray women whose intelligence gave them presence and stature. In this drawing, one that is intimate and personal in its close-up view of the sitter, Dewing seems to have paid tribute to Mariette Cotton's talent as well as to her delicate
    profile."

    This work will be included in Dr. Susan A. Hobbs' forthcoming Thomas Wilmer Dewing Catalogue Raisonné.




    Condition Report*: Sheet is hinged at top corners verso to mount; light overall paper discoloration; possible rubbing; minor edge wear including faint toning, tiny tears, and bumps as well as one small notch of loss in lower right edge; framed under glass. Framed Dimensions 30 X 26 Inches
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Shipping, Taxes, Terms and Bidding
    New Calculate Custom Domestic Shipping

    Sales Tax information

    Important information concerning Sales Tax and Resale Certificates. Learn More

    Terms and Conditions

    Bidding Guidelines and Bid Increments

    Glossary of Terms

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2017
    3rd Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 641

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $250,000 (minimum $19), plus 20% of any amount between $250,000 and $2,500,000, plus 12% of any amount over $2,500,000 per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    VIEW BENEFITS
    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
      winnings 
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2019 November 12 Ethnographic Art American Indian, Pre-Columbian and Tribal Art Signature Auction - Dallas.

    Learn about consigning with us

    Wow; aren’t we lucky to meet you. Thanks for the great info and superior client service.
    Paul & Gerri M.,
    New York, NY
    View More Testimonials

    HA.com receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source: Similarweb.com)

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search

    Recent auctions

    2014 November 21 Tiffany, Lalique & Art Glass Signature Auction
    2014 November 21 Tiffany, Lalique & Art Glass Signature Auction
    REALIZED $1,441,296
    2014 November 17 American Art Signature Auction
    2014 November 17 American Art Signature Auction
    REALIZED $6,712,638
    2014 November 14 American Indian Art , Pre-Columbian, & Tribal Art Signature Auction
    2014 Nov 14 American Indian Art, Pre-Columbian & Tribal Art Auction
    REALIZED $441,524
    2014 November 8 Modern & Contemporary Art Signature Auction
    2014 November 8 Modern & Contemporary Art Signature Auction
    REALIZED $5,683,719
    2014 November 6 Silver & Vertu Signature Auction
    2014 November 6 Silver & Vertu Signature Auction
    REALIZED $439,980
    2014 October 18 The Belo Collection of Texas Art Signature Auction
    2014 October 18 The Belo Collection of Texas Art Signature Auction
    REALIZED $624,835
    2014 October 16 Photographs Signature Auction
    2014 October 16 Photographs Signature Auction
    REALIZED $824,108
    2014 September 28 Nature & Science Signature Auction
    2014 September 28 Nature & Science Signature Auction
    REALIZED $1,089,341
    2014 Sept 13-14 Gentleman Collector Signature Estate Auction
    2014 Sept 13-14 Gentleman Collector Signature Estate Auction
    REALIZED $1,725,292
    2019 April 23 Illustration Art Signature Auction - Dallas
    2019 April 23 Illustration Art Signature Auction - Dallas
    REALIZED SO FAR $2,461,572