The Dallas Museum of Art acquired in May 2013 Portrait of an Artist in his Studio. This unattributed portrait is a fine example of a type of small-scale portraiture that flourished during the 1780s and 1790s in Europe, and its format was particularly popular among the international community of artist working in Rome, making it likely that this painting was made in that context. A secure attribution has not yet been made, but further research may ascertain the painter and/or sitter. Even without such identifying information, the painting stands on its own as a masterful example of late-18th century European portraiture and its sophisticated attention to psychological and material presence.
Portrait of an Artist in His Studio was acquired for the Dallas Museum of Art by Heather MacDonald, the Museum’s Lillian and James H. Clark
Associate Curator of European Art. MacDonald consulted with Dr. Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell, an art historian specializing in fashion and textiles to help establish the painting’s date, which is likely the early to mid-1780s, based on the style of the sitter’s garments: the coat with large buttons, tab collar, sloping lapels, white silk lining, and narrow sleeves with shallow cuffs; the short waistcoat; close-fitting breeches; and low heels. The strong red tone of his suit also points to an Italian setting for the painting.
“This portrait is an exciting and novel addition to a strong group of late-18th century European paintings in the DMA’s collections, and will help us tell the international history of art during this period, with special attention to Rome as a node of contact and transmission of ideas and fashions, particularly in the portrait genre,” said Dr. MacDonald.