Label Text: Is this portrait of a woman or a dress? The layers of shimmering pink satin, trimmed with yards of frothy white lace, and the immense puffy sleeves dominate the composition. This pink confection exemplified Chase’s renowned painting style, which made him the painter of choice for the nouveaux riches of the late 1800s. In fact, Chase exhibited this portrait at the Society of American Artists in 1900, as an advertisement for future commissions.
The woman underneath the dress is less grand and eye-catching. Mrs. Robert McDougal of Orange, New Jersey, is clearly overwhelmed by her couture. Her small, somber face rests uncomfortably on a neck encased in layers of pink fabric and her hands gingerly clasp a feather fan, as though they needed something to occupy them. Why does she seem so uncomfortable? There is a story here, but unfortunately the artist provides little information about the person, focusing instead on her wealth and position.