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Robert Henri
La Madrileñita
oil on canvas
Canvas: 41 × 33 3/16 inches (104.1 × 84.3 cm)Framed: 48 5/8 × 40 5/8 × 3 3/8 inches (123.5 × 103.2 × 8.6 cm)
Credit Line
Museum purchase.
Accession Number
Robert Henri objected to pretty, sentimental painting, crusading to bring vitality and realism back to American painting at the turn of the 20th century. Henri advocated a painterly technique based on the bravura brushwork of 19th-century French painters like Édouard Manet and their 17th-century Spanish antecedents, most notably Diego Velázquez. Henri's admiration for Velázquez drew him to Spain, where he absorbed both the technique and subject matter of Spanish painters. Although he painted several portraits of this sitter, Henri wrote to the Telfair president, "I feel that you will have in the picture La Madrileñita, one of the very best things I have painted.… It was painted in Madrid. She is a very young girl, born and raised as a dancer.… [I]t seemed to me she had in her carriage at all times much of the spirit of dignity of Old Spain."