Portrait of a Young Girl

Artist: Thomas Wilmer Dewing (1851-1938)
Historical period(s)
Oil on canvas
H x W: 34.5 x 25.1 cm (13 9/16 x 9 7/8 in)
United States
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art Collection
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Oil painting

portrait, United States, woman

Caroline J. Hecker, New York [1]

To 1893
Reichard and Company, New York [2]

From 1893 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Reichard and Company, New York on January 3, 1893 [3]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [4]


[1] Provenance field.

[2] See note 1.

[3] See note 1.

[4] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Caroline J. Hecker
Reichard and Company (C.L. Freer source)
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919


Dewing painted this picture to look like a modern masterpiece, for when Freer bought it at auction in early 1893 the painter exulted, "I am sure you have a 'Corot.'" Serious and aristocratic, the sitter could, indeed, be a fine lady, but the aura of refinement is assumed, for the "lady" was a skilled impersonator-an actress and model adept at looking "more like the real thing than the real thing itself."

An effervescent personality, "Dudie," as friends called her, was out on her own at an early age. Her father, an immigrant from Glasgow with seven children to support, often struggled to make ends meet. Even so, the family disowned their daughter when she became a showgirl. She traveled with a touring theatrical company, and as a model she merited front-page coverage in the New York Herald Tribune. Dudie survived by her wits--unmarried, a free spirit, and a prankster who never ceased to amuse the artists for whom she posed. Freer delighted in hearing about her exploits from Dewing.

(Quotations from Thomas Wilmer Dewing to Charles Lang Freer, December 23, 1892, Charles Lang Freer Papers, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives, and an interview with Julia Baird in The Real Diana of the Garden, New York Herald Tribune, December 5, 1897)

Published References
  • Susan Hobbs. Thomas Wilmer Dewing: Beauty into Art: A Catalogue Raisonné. New Haven, CT, November 13, 2018. pg 343, pl 154.
Collection Area(s)
American Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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