Girl in White, c. 1901
Oil on wood panel, 24 x 19 3/8 inches
ABOUT THE ART
Alfred Maurer’s earliest paintings reveal his interest in a pervasive late nineteenth-century tradition of painting women as objects of beauty and contemplation. Girl in White, from 1901, is an example of Maurer’s mastery of the style of the important American expatriate James McNeill Whistler, the founder of Aestheticism. This movement emphasized tonal subtlety and harmony in painting rather than the exact replication of visual reality.
The subject of Girl in White typifies the sheltered life of bourgeois American women at the turn of the twentieth century. Maurer contrasts the figure of the girl, with her sweeping dress and soft hair, to the strict lines of the domestic interior, alluding to her entrapment within her social class.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Although best known as a figure painter, Alfred Maurer produced a varied body of work that encompassed the major themes and stylistic directions in American art from 1890 to 1930. Female figures were his earliest and latest subjects, but he also created landscapes, still life paintings, genre scenes, abstractions, and at least two self-portraits. He was born in New York City, one of three children of successful Currier and Ives lithographer Louis Maurer. Arthur Dove and Marsden Hartley closely influenced Maurer, and by 1919 he began integrating Cubism into his art.