|Elizabeth Cann, The Soldiers Wife, 1941, (source)|
|Elizabeth Cann, Mrs Kary Wyman Baker, (source)|
Elizabeth Lovitt Cann, (1901-1977) was so well educated, it amazes me, she studied at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine arts, the School of Applied Design for Women in New York, and also in England and Paris (full bio here). She had money behind her, and that really seems key for women back then (funny when all we generally have nowadays is the 'starving artist' ideal). She's mostly known for her portraits of women and girls, though she did landscape as well.
I love portraits of Women by Women, they are so different from portraits of women by men. The idea of women being painted as an object to look at instead of an actual person with motives of their own is a subject much talked about- (I spoke about it a bit here- while talking about Manet's Olympia). It's much more interesting to see women when represented by women because their physicality often takes a back seat. I don't just mean no breasts and legs on display- though that's part of it, certainly, what I mean is that when men paint women often it's about the line of their bodies, the curve of a back, or jaw, or nose, just about the simple beauty of a female subject, their grace and feminine presence. When a woman paints a woman it seems as if she's just seeing her as a person, as herself, not the 'Other'.
The Soldiers Wife is just so poignant, and the expression so real, it brings you right there to where that woman is in time. I also love the floral patterns as she painted them, not too detailed, and not too loose. I did a portrait of my Great Grandma once and there were so many floral prints, I just about lost my mind, it was a real test to try and get them just right.