Josephine Paddock

In the Courtyard, before 1905
Oil on canvas, 5 ½ x 6
Gift of Mildred Thaler Cohen
Seymour R. Thaler and Mildred Thaler Cohen Collection 99.25.38

Barnard-educated Josephine Paddock studied art at New York’s Art Students League 1902-03 with William Merritt Chase and John White Alexander. Alexander’s impact is evident in this painting, produced early in her career.

John White Alexander is best known for his evocative depictions of idealized women––especially those he painted in Paris during the 1890s, when he developed his personal style that mixed the influence of James McNeil Whistler, Symbolism, and Art Nouveau. The elegant character of his work included sinuous and sensuous lines, subtle coloring and dramatic lighting. These design qualities combine with a masterful use of compositional space in the six murals he created for the Library of Congress between 1895 and 1897.

In the Courtyard reflects Paddock’s appreciation and use of Alexander’s techniques. She uses deep architectural space in this small painting and sets the action deep and high in the composition. The sweeping line of the low, white wall at right brings the viewer’s attention to a fountain where three children linger in the shadows of the enclosed space. Overall subtle coloring in greys and browns are broken by quick strokes of green and pink.