WILLIAM JAMES GLACKENS (1870–1938)
Mrs. Albert Barnes and Her Dog, Grover, in a Garden, about 1912-15
Oil on canvas, 25 x 30 in.
Signed (at lower right): Glackens
RECORDED: Ira Glackens, William Glackens and the Ashcan Group: The Emergence of Realism in American Art (New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1957), illus. following p. 236 // William H. Gerdts, William Glackens (New York: Abbeville Press, 1996), pp. 97, 163 n. 72
EX COLL.: the artist; to Mrs. Laura L. Barnes, until 1966; by bequest to Brooklyn Museum of Art, 1967–69; to [Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York, 1969–70]; to private collection, until the present
Mrs. Albert Barnes and Her Dog, Grover is an impressionist tour de force, using the power of color to set a mood and frame a story. It is a glorious summer day. The handsome women in white has been gathering flowers, which she holds in a basket. She has stopped momentarily and is looking down at her companion in this exercise, a small spaniel. In a picture where detail is suppressed and focus is soft, it is clear that Grover has his tongue out, perhaps looking for a treat, or winded from running around in the garden. The flowers have been carefully planted in discrete beds of color and are in full bloom. A patch of yellow and black Icelandic poppies cluster in the right foreground. Other discrete areas of yellow, orange and violet flowers render the bottom half of the canvas a colorful tapestry. The dark green of the trees identifies the season as high summer. Though there is a path, Laura stands on a grassy spot amid the flowers. A grove of trees various types of tree blocks the distance, while on the left, behind a screen of trees, we can make out the slanting roof of a building. In all, the work evokes a feeling of calm, happy, satisfaction. This garden is not just an impressionist artist’s excuse to paint a pretty picture. Laura Barnes was married to a man famous for his strong, idiosyncratic, and often difficult personality. She was never, however, a cipher. Managing the Barnes Arboretum during her husband’s lifetime, after his death in 1955, she directed the Barnes Foundation for eleven years. Standing erect, but at ease in a garden, Glackens portrays Laura Barnes in her element, surrounded by her attribute.