Man with the Cat (Henry Sturgis Drinker)

Media - 1952.10.1 - SAAM-1952.10.1_1 - 67375
Copied Cecilia Beaux, Man with the Cat (Henry Sturgis Drinker), 1898, oil on canvas, 4834 58 in. (121.987.8 cm.), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Bequest of Henry Ward Ranger through the National Academy of Design, 1952.10.1
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Artwork Details

Man with the Cat (Henry Sturgis Drinker)
4834 58 in. (121.987.8 cm.)
Credit Line
Bequest of Henry Ward Ranger through the National Academy of Design
Mediums Description
oil on canvas
  • Animal — cat
  • Occupation — education
  • Occupation — industry — railroad
  • Architecture Interior — domestic
Object Number

Artwork Description

Cecilia Beaux's portrait of Henry Sturgis Drinker is an interesting pairing of artist and sitter. Drinker was Beaux's brother-in-law, a railroad executive who later became president of Lehigh University. In the 1890s, men such as Drinker were at the pinnacle of East Coast society, and their tastes shaped public life for decades.

Beaux was a fiercely independent woman who lived well, kept handsome lovers, and had a will of iron. At a time when few women could, she carved out a career for herself as a portraitist, and was thought to rival John Singer Sargent. Drinker's mutton-chop whiskers, linen suit, and casual pose convey immense self-assurance, but his steady, almost wary gaze suggests that he recognized in the artist a personality as strong as his own.

Exhibition Label, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2006