Art Sunday: Berthe Morisot – At the Ball

At The Ball is a portrait of a pretty young woman. With what looks to be a solid wall and a dividing wall with flowers behind her, one might think the young woman is sitting in a corner watching the other guests dancing. Is she jealous that her beau is dancing with another? Is she watching something scandalous? Her brown eyes are certainly watching something as she daintily raises her painted fan to perhaps hide her surveillance.


Art Sunday: Edouard Manet – The Monet Family in Their Garden at Argenteuil

In July and August 1874 Manet vacationed at his family’s house in Gennevilliers, just across the Seine from Monet at Argenteuil. The two painters saw each other often that summer, and on a number of occasions they were joined by Renoir. While Manet was painting this picture of Monet with his wife Camille and their son Jean, Monet painted Manet at his easel (location unknown). Renoir, who arrived just as Manet was beginning to work, borrowed paint, brushes, and canvas, positioned himself next to Manet, and painted Madame Monet and Her Son.


Art Sunday: Archibald Willard – The Spirit of 76

Willard’s most famous work is The Spirit of ’76 (previously known as Yankee Doodle), which was exhibited at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1876. Common myths claim that people were so inspired by it that Willard was invited to show his painting and that even then president Grant gave his praise. Unfortunately, it did not have such an initial popularity. It was placed in the Art Annex to make room for a large number of applications and it was scarcely advertised. It was not hailed by critics either, with one calling the work “oppressive”. The success of the painting was largely due to Ryder’s marketing of the chromolithographs, sold first at five dollars a piece and for less as the exhibition progressed. After the exhibition, the painting garnered enough popularity to tour across the country to large crowds.

The original is displayed in Abbot Hall, Marblehead, Massachusetts. Several later variations painted by Willard have been exhibited around the country (including in the United States Department of State).

Willard developed the painting from a sketch, which included three men dancing and singing. He used his father, Samuel Willard, as the model for the middle character of the painting. Hugh Mosher was the model for the fifer. The boy was Henry Devereaux. Including his father in the painting was something that set the painting apart from his usual, humorous style, since Willard was sentimental of his father’s work as a minister and his grandfather’s role in the Revolutionary War.


Art Sunday: Francisco de Goya – La maja vestida

The Clothed Maja is a pendant painting by the Spanish painter Francisco de Goya between 1800 and 1805. It is a clothed version of the earlier La maja desnuda (1797–1800) and is exhibited next to it in the same room at the Prado Museum in Madrid.

The painting was first owned by Prime Minister Manuel de Godoy. It was twice in the collection of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando, also in Madrid, being “sequestered” by the Spanish Inquisition between 1814 and 1836, and has been in the Museo del Prado since 1901.