A guest post by Jacob A. Schmitt
This is a wonderful portrait of the artist’s wife, Gertrude. A gracious, lyrical femininity is seen in the dignified movement of the pose and the basic forms of the flowing dress, the upper body, arms, and head. This is enhanced by the tilt of the head repeated in the poised wrist and contrasted by the repose of the right arm—a superb sense of a balance of rhythmic lyricism.
At the same time—and this is Schmitt’s first picture that offers this technique—the whole picture is united by a conical-triangular shape formed from the flowing dress at the base, through the dignified rectangular form of the body capped by the dark hair. Hence, there is movement within solidity, but with delicacy, balance, and poise.
Compared to earlier portraits, one sees a refinement in the handling of light falling upon the upper face, shoulders, and arms. The viewer’s eye is moved and focuses more clearly on the central aspect of Gertrude’s concentration by the technique of a more refined sculpting and modeling of the head and shoulders. Along with this modeling, a solidity of form is achieved by the manner in which light is used in the background and how it falls on the figure.
This painting, seriously damaged in a fire in the summer of 2012, was recently restored to its original beauty and now graces the home of one of Carl Schmitt’s grandsons in Massachusetts.