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Lydia Field Emmet

One of the most striking portraits by the leading New York painted William Merritt Chase, this dramatic likeness of his talented student and later the successful portait painter Lydia Field Emmet (1866–1952) was an homage to the portraitists he most admired: the Spanish Baroque master Diego Velázquez and the nineteenth-century painters James McNeil Whistler and Edouard Manet. Drawing particularly on the vigorous painterly realism of Veláquez, Chase structured the likeness with strikingly opposed areas of light and dark, and employed such brilliant passages of the painterly freedom as the trailing pink bow of the "Van Dyckian" Baroque-inspired gown. Lydia Emmet's direct gaze and bold pose, with her elbow assertively aimed at the the viewer, speak to her spirit of independence, at the time she was preparing a mural entitled Art, Science, and Literature for the Woman's Building at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.


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