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Emil Carlsen : Girl reading, ca.1897.
Emil Carlsen : Girl reading, ca.1897.


ECA Record Control Number: 4573

Archives of American Art #: 61070477 [Art Inventories]

Record Level: Item

Record Type: Movable Work

Work Title: Girl Reading

Alternate Work Titles:

Work Date: ca.1897

Work Creator: Emil Carlsen [1848-1932]

Work Medium: Oil on board
Work Dimensions: 11-5/8 x 8-1/2 inches

Location: At lower right.
Dated: No.
Text: ‘Emil. Carlsen.’.

ECA Category: People
ECA Sub-Category: Genre

Archives of American Art Subjects:
Architecture interior
Architecture interior — Commercial
Architecture interior — Commercial — Store
Figure female
Figure female — Full length
Recreation — Leisure
Recreation — Leisure — Reading

Description of Work:
Vertical composition of a woman shown full-length sitting on a stool reading a book among onions and carrots. In the left foreground is large two-handled woven wicker basket of onions. In center mid-ground sits a right facing woman in a Victorian blouse and skirt. Left and right of the woman in the mid-ground are piles of vegetables and carrots. The background is non-descript and undefined. [Description based on a black and white photo. ECA, September 16, 2016]

1966 Whitney Museum of Art [1931- ], [2015- ] 99 Gansevoort St, New York, NY 10014 | [1966-2014] 945 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10021 | [1931-1966] 8 West Eighth Street, New York, NY 10018, Gift of Rita and Daniel Fraad, Jr. (Accession #: ?)
1966 Private collection of Rita Fraad [1915-2004] and Daniel Fraad, Jr. [1912-1987], New York, NY
1964 Private collection of Margaret Horowitz [1915-2005] and Raymond J. Horowitz [1916-2005], New York, NY
1964 Hirschl & Adler Galleries [1952- ], [2011- ] 730 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10019 | [1977-2011] 21 East 70th Street, New York, NY 10021 | [1958-1977] 21 East 67th, New York, NY 10065 | [1952-1958] Marguery Hotel on 270 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017 (Hirschl & Adler Control Number: APG 1627D)
ca.1897 Emil Carlsen [1848-1932], the artist
Exhibition History:
1967 Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY, “Recent Acquisitions: April 20, 1966 – May 17, 1967”, May 17 – June 18.

– Bill Indursky. “Re: Emil Carlsen Archives. [About the provenance of work sold by Hirschl & Adler Galleries]” Message to Eric Baumgartner. June 23, 2015 at 12:18 PM ; June 29, 2015 at 4:42 PM ; June 30, 2015 at 1:54 PM ; June 30, 2015 at 3:38 PM ; June 30, 2015 at 7:44 PM. Series of five email exchanges.
– Bill Indursky. “RE: Work by Emil Carlsen in Your Collection.” Message to Monica Crozier, Research Resources, Whitney Museum of Art. December 17, 2014 at 2:20 PM ; December 17, 2014 at 2:58 PM ; January 29, 2015 at 2:29 PM. Series of three email exchanges.

Related Works:
– Girl in Vegetable Shop, 1897 [finished version of the painting]
– Mrs. Carlsen Plucking Fowl, 1893 [painting with similar pose & date]
– Arranging Flowers, 1886 [a similar size study with similar finish]

ECA Notes:

– ECA considers this work a “finished study” based on its dimensions, and the fact that a variation exists in a larger format Girl in Vegetable Shop, 1897; 50 x 43 inches. Carlsen would paint small works from life, alla prima, and then develop larger finished pieces in his studio, sometimes years later. When Carlsen’s estate was sold upon his daughter-in-law’s death in 1975, there were approximately 250+ small oil studies/sketches by the artist. Many of the sketches were used to create larger finished works. The young sitter in the painting might be the artist’s wife, Luella May (Ruby) Carlsen [ca.1869-before 1966], who he married in October, 1896 and was 20 years his junior. There are not many photos of Luella from that time and there is no definitive proof. That the larger version as early as 1898 title was Parisian Market Woman may support that it is not the artist’s wife. In this study, the sitter is reading a book. Carlsen probably did not intend for the finish painting to show a woman reading, but allowed it to occupy the sitter during the painting process. The sitter could have been there for several hours and reading would have been a good way to pass the time. Carlsen would adjust the figure later for the final larger version. This could explain the stiff and anatomical inaccuracies of the larger version’s hands. Carlsen had done little figure work prior to this period and his early figures were painfully stiff and inaccurate in general. He chose to “hide” the hand with a ribbon in the finished work, perhaps feeling self-conscious of the end result. There is another study from this period of work, Arranging Flowers, 1886, with similar dimensions and level of finish. Girl Reading is part of a series of genre works that Carlsen produced from ca.1884 – ca.1897 after receiving critical acclaim for a similar painting that was accepted to the Paris Salon in 1884/1885 (A Girl Preparing Poultry, 1884/1885). The series featured women doing common chores and may have initially be influenced by his stay in France where he became aware of Antoine Vollon who also painted similar themes. [ECA]

– The work’s circa date is based on the larger format version of this painting dated 1897 and shown in October. This would allow Carlsen to have produced this painting around September or October of 1897. The fact that the vegetables are late fall beets, onions, and carrots also might support this theory. [ECA]

– Based on Eric Baumgartner’s of Hirschl & Adler email, there was some confusion between the provenance for the study and the finished work. ECA has sorted out the citations and this document reflects the result. [ECA]

Price History:


Document Information

Digital-born Document Number:

Digital Document Provenance:
Original compiled and researched document by the Emil Carlsen Archives, 266 West 21st Street, Suite 4E, New York, NY 10011.

Document License:
Creative Commons Corporation shareAlike (sa) license. Some of the information contained within this document may hold further publication restrictions depending on final use. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine.

Image License:
The author of this artwork died more than 70 years ago. According to U.S. Copyright Law, copyright expires 70 years after the author’s death. In other countries, legislation may differ.

Record Birth Date:
September 15, 2014

Last Update:
September 16, 2016