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The Lesson

1907 Hugo Ballin Born: New York, New York 1879 Died: Santa Monica, California 1956 oil on canvas 50 x 40 in. (127.0 x 101.6 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of William T. Evans 1910.9.1 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 3rd Floor, 7A

Luce Center Label

Hugo Ballin loved music and liked to play the piano when he was not painting. In this image the teacher plays a portative organ and her student follows on a flute. Before the ruptures of the First World War, middle-class American families still aspired to a nineteenth-century ideal of gentility. Children, particularly girls, were encouraged to study art and music as part of their upbringing. The dark, richly patterned background of this painting evokes a luxurious tapestry, reflecting the cultivated life of young ladies at the turn of the twentieth century.


Figure group - female

Occupation - education - student

Performing arts - music - flute

Performing arts - music - virginal


paint - oil

fabric - canvas