Painted circa 1896, Portrait of a Young Lady reveals the period during DeCamp’s career when he began exploring the genre of idealized figures in interiors, a subject that his fellow Museum School teachers were addressing. Critics were favorable towards this type of painting, in particular when executed with loose brushstrokes and bright colors. Just one year after the completion of this portrait, DeCamp was asked to be a member of the impressionist group, The Ten American Painters. While he certainly fit in with these talented painters, DeCamp’s biographer, Laurene Buckley, points out that “…it was DeCamp’s academic approach, his ability to capture a certain sophistication in his sitters, and above all, his sheer expertise in the handling of paint that gave him a special place within the group.”
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Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Joseph Rodefer DeCamp studied briefly at the McMicken School of Design before traveling abroad and enrolling at the Royal Academy in Munich in 1878. In 1883 DeCamp returned to the Ohio area and took teaching positions at art academies in Cleveland, but by 1884, he had settled in Boston where he became an influential teacher, beginning at Wellesley College from 1884 to 1886. In 1897, DeCamp became one of the founding members of the Impressionist group, the Ten American Painters, along with Boston friends Frank W. Benson and Edmund C. Tarbell.
Disaster struck in 1904 and his studio in the Harcourt Building burned down. Starting from scratch, he offered to paint fellow St. Botolph Club members at a reduced rate, thus establishing himself as one of Boston’s foremost portrait artists. For the next fifteen years, DeCamp went on to capture the likenesses of many notable sitters, including Benjamin Ames Kimball (1905), Charles Henry Taylor (1913), his teacher Frank Duveneck (1911-12) and President Theodore Roosevelt (1908).
Collection, Sudbury, Massachusetts
With Vose Galleries, Boston, inventory no. 33159, February 2000
To private collection, Stratham, New Hampshire, February 2000 to present
(torn) Providence Art Club / Title: Head of Young Woman (torn) / Artist: Joseph DeCamp (torn) / Address: Harcourt Studios / Return to: Boston, Mass.
- (possibly) Eighteenth Annual Exhibition, Society of American Artists, New York, March 28 – May 2, 1896
- (possibly) Fifth Annual Exhibition of Works by American Artists, Cincinnati Museum Association, May 21 – July 5, 1898
- (possibly) Fifteenth Annual Exhibition, St. Louis Exposition and Music Hall Association, September 14 – October 29, 1898
- One Hundred and Twenty-Seventh Exhibition, Providence Art Club, March 7 – 25, 1899, No. 20, as Head of Young Woman