Fratelli Vianelli - Ralph Wormeley Curtis, about 1884

Fratelli Vianelli (active Venice, about 1860 - 1880)

Ralph Wormeley Curtis, about 1884

Albumen print, 16.2 x 10.5 cm (6 3/8 x 4 1/8 in.)

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Object details

Accession number

ARC.003947

Provenance

Gift from the American painter and collector Ralph W. Curtis (1854–1922) to Isabella Stewart Gardner, Venice on 23 June 1884.

Marks

Printed bottom edge (recto): G. e L. Fratelli Vianelli [crown] Venezia
Printed (verso): G. e. L. Fratelli Vianelli / Fotografi onorari....
Inscribed in ink over printing (verso): To my friend / Mrs Gardner / Ralph Curtis / Venice / June 23, 84


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Commentary

Ralph Curtis, the painter and friend of Isabella Stewart Gardner's, poses for this photographer with studied informality, his waxed mustache a testament to intensive grooming, a cigarette burning in his hand as he leans on the ornamental pedestal holding his bowler hat. His fashionable attitudes did not always impress his friends. Henry James privately expressed his skepticism of Curtis in a letter to Isabella, writing that “the fragrance of his frivolity & the flushed rose pink of his image seem always to reach me from afar.” Despite James’s ambivalence, Gardner acquired several of Curtis’s paintings and periodically relied on his advice when building her remarkable collection of fine art.

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