Portrait of Frances C. Houston

Media - 1929.6.33 - SAAM-1929.6.33_1 - 373
Copied Thomas Wilmer Dewing, Portrait of Frances C. Houston, ca. 1880-1889, oil on canvas, 19 5814 14 in. (49.736.1 cm.), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of John Gellatly, 1929.6.33
Free to use

Artwork Details

Portrait of Frances C. Houston
ca. 1880-1889
19 5814 14 in. (49.736.1 cm.)
upper left in oil: T.W. Dewin? (illegible)/188? (illegible) frame verso lower right in acrylic: 29.6.33 stretcher upper in acrylic: 29.6.33
Credit Line
Gift of John Gellatly
Mediums Description
oil on canvas
  • Portrait
  • Portrait female — Houston, Frances C. — bust
Object Number

Artwork Description

Thomas Wilmer Dewing painted his vivacious friend in a seventeenth-century costume in the spirit of Frans Hals or Diego Velázquez, two of their favorite old masters. He wrote to the editor of Century Magazine, praising Houston's "sense of style." Dewing and Frances had studied in Paris, where both artists would have made head studies like this one. After she returned to the United States, Frances married William C. Houston, the proprietor of a Boston department store. The couple purchased property near the Dewings' summer home in Cornish, New Hampshire, where they joined in the social activities of a vibrant art colony. Houston worked in Cornish as a portrait painter and jeweler, but was also known for her impressive cooking and gardening. (Hobbs, Beauty Reconfigured: The Art of Thomas Wilmer Dewing, 1996)