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Thomas Wilmer Dewing
A Reading
1897
oil
20 1/4 x 30 1/4 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Bequest of Henry Ward Ranger through the National Academy of Design



Dressed up with nowhere to go, these languorous women exist in a realm that the artist described as a place “where a few choice spirits live.” Absorbed in self-reflection, they are as delicate and refined as the Chinese celadon vase on the gleaming table top. Dewing frequently referred to his paintings as “decorations” and enhanced them with frames designed by the architect Stanford White, like the example created for this painting.