Profile: Head of a Woman

Profile: Head of a Woman
John White Alexander, ca. 1880
monotype, 38.7 x 26 cm
(15 1/4 x 10 1/4 in.), Virginia Tobeason

Alexander Biography

Frank Duveneck and two of his students, including John White Alexander, moved to Florence in October 1879, in part to be near the American artist Elizabeth Boott, who had come to study painting with Duveneck in Munich the previous summer. Elizabeth Boott assembled a group of female art students to study with Duveneck and possibly obtain commissions for him as well. The Duveneck "Boys" and the female art students socialized, and some of them formed a club, known as the Charcoal Club, which met every Monday.

The Charcoal Club disbanded after two winters, and the Monday get-togethers moved to the home of the American sculptor Thomas Ball, where making monotypes continued to be one of the group's amusements. The mood of the gatherings was lighthearted, and the spontaneous nature of monotypes was the perfect complement to the evening's entertainment. The act of printing added an element of chance, and the surprise of seeing the printed image pulled off the plate lent the activity the air of a party game.

The artists often did quick portraits of one another and of other guests at these gatherings, among whom may have been the woman portrayed in Alexander's monotype.

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