As The New York Palace continues to evolve, so does the artwork. In our previous post, The New York Palace Undergoes an Artful Update, we gave you a brief overview of the oil portraits located on our fourth and fifth floors, including The Reluctant Model.
The Reluctant Model piece (pictured below) is a Palace favorite. The portrait features a little girl who seems to be unenthusiastic about modeling for the painting.
Nancy Sweeney, art consultant for The Palace and principal of the Art Advisory Service, stumbled across Dixon-Hall Fine Art, a Pennsylvania art dealer that supplied the painting, by chance. Initially, Sweeney was looking for another art dealer with more contemporary pieces that shared a similar name. However, when Sweeney found the Dixon-Hall website, she shifted gears and selected a few of their pieces for The New York Palace.
According to Dixon-Hall co-owner Audrey Dixon, The Reluctant Model’s artist, Hugh Newell (1830-1915), is known for his still life and portrait pieces. Originally from Ireland, Newell was trained as an artist at the Irish School of Painters. Having moved to the United States, Newell lived in Baltimore and later Pittsburgh, where he served as the principal of the Women’s College of Design. In addition, his works can be seen in the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts.
Documents state that The Reluctant Model was commissioned by Eugene Southerland of Montclair, New Jersey in 1884 as a portrait in the likeness of his wife, Georgiana Nichols. As the portrait is of a small child, the known history of the model is unclear. It is likely that the painting could either be of Southerland’s wife as a child or his daughter.
While staying at The Palace, we suggest visiting the fifth floor to take a look at this work of art yourself. Let us know what you think about The Reluctant Model in the comments below or on our Facebook page.