Lady in Pink

WAG 941


The sketchy painting technique used in 'Lady in Pink' shows evidence of it having been created when Frieseke was still learning to paint fluently in oils having changed from predominantly working in watercolour. It shows a student's tentativeness and hesitation in front of a model. The paints have been thinly washed over a cheap cardboard support often used by students for sketching. In some places these watercolour-like washes are very thin. The bare-ground of the cardboard shows through providing a buff-brown mid-tone to the silvery-greys, pinks, pastel-blues and green shades of the composition. These subtle colour harmonies owe a lot to Whistler's own work. So does the inclusion of a colour note in the title - 'Lady in Pink'. The Walker's picture was painted in Paris in 1902, as Frieseke's inscription, in the lower left corner, indicates. It was almost certainly painted in his bedsit-studio in the inner-city district of Montparnasse, south of the River Seine. Before 1914 Montparnasse was known for providing cheap studios and lodgings for poor foreign artists. A photograph of Frieseke taken, in about 1901, in his studio at 51 Boulevard Saint-Jacques, shows a similar low divan or sofa, covered in an embroidered throw and cushions and partly draped in a Stars and Stripes flag. Frieseke's studio was on the top floor above a soda-water factory, near Montparnasse cemetery. The building was known for its unsanitary conditions and bad drainage. He described his studio in 1901 as 'getting almost unbearable. They have put in more machinery below, increased their plant generally & it makes things very disagreeable. … At the present writing the place is full of smoke and a smell of burnt rubber.' It is difficult to believe that such an elegant picture as 'Lady in Pink' could have been created in such unpleasant conditions.