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Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. Photography by Edward C. Robison III.

The Midinette

Artist: Alfred Henry Maurer (1868 - 1932)
Date: ca. 1902
73 7/16 × 39 5/8 in. (186.5 × 100.6 cm)
Framed: 85 1/2 × 51 1/2 × 3 1/2 in.
Medium: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas, Gift of Donna and Arthur Hartman, 2010.45
Signed: l.r.: Alfred H. Maurer
On View
Accession Number: 2010.45
ProvenancePierre Daura [1896-1976], 1925; by descent to Martha Randolph Daura (his daughter), 1976; given to Ambassador Arthur Hartman [b. 1926], Washington, D.C. ca. 2000; given to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR, 2010
Label TextMaurer became influenced by James Whistler during his first years in Paris. For The Midinette he used a canvas nearly twice as tall as it is wide, which is similar to the proportions of Whistler’s paintings such as Mother of Pearl and Silver: The Andalusian. Maurer also used just a few muted colors and posed his figure against a plain background. The focus of the work becomes the visual contrast of shapes and textures making up the costume of the model, Jeanne Blazy, and the round hatbox she carries. The dark tonality of the painting and subtle brushwork creates further abstraction by concealing the model’s body in favor of the mass of her clothing.

Invented around 1900, the term midinette referred to young women working as salespeople. Maurer’s depiction of Blazy as a modern wage-earning woman intersected with his interest in Modernist artistic styles.