(American, 1866 - 1952)

Portrait of a Girl

Oil on canvas, 33 1/2 x 41 1/2 inches
Signed at upper right: “Lydia Field Emmet”

Note: This painting retains what appears to be its original frame.

By means of a bravura technique for which several of her teachers, especially Chase, were also noted, Emmet attempted to create a feeling of spontaneity in her portraits that would give lively expression to her sitters’ personalities. As her niece Lydia Sherwood McClean would recall, the artist often remarked that a sitter “has such a bright little expression, if I can only catch it.” McClean also noted that “The sisters shared the same love of beauty, the same delight in humor and absurdity, the same affection and sympathy for children and young people (whom they treated completely as equals).”1


1. Quoted in McClean’s preface to Martha J. Hoppin, The Emmets: A Family of Women Painters (Pittsfield, Mass.: The Berkshire Museum, 1982), pp. 9-10.

About the Artist

(American, 1866 - 1952)

Together with her sister Rosina Emmet Sherwood (1854-1948) and her cousin Ellen Emmet Rand (1876-1941), Lydia Field Emmet was one of three talented women artists–from a family distinguished by achievement in the professions, literature, art, and public service–who became especially well known for their portraits of children.

The three aspiring artists studied painting in New York with William Merritt Chase (1849-1916), probably the most influential American teacher of his time. Chase’s classes--in New York, Philadelphia, and California; in various parts of Europe, where he guided and taught American students during several summers; and especially at the Shinnecock Summer School of Art on Long Island--included many young women at a time when women were just beginning to gain acceptance as professional artists. Emmet also studied with Henry Siddons Mowbray (1858-1928), Kenyon Cox (1856-1919), and Robert Reid (1862-1929) in New York. She continued her training in Paris with William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905), Louis-Joseph-Raphaël Collin (1850-1916), Tony Robert-Fleury (1837-1912), and the American sculptor and painter Frederick William MacMonnies (1863-1937), who worked with Claude Monet (1840-1926) at Giverny.

Lydia Field Emmet exhibited widely in museums and at international expositions, where she won many awards. In 1982 the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, mounted The Emmets: A Family of Women Painters, with a checklist and essay by Martha J. Hoppin.

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