By her late thirties, Fiske had earned a reputation for being a leading woman painter in Boston. Her increasing interest in the art and artists of New England led her to become a founding member of the Guild of Boston Artists, co-founder along with friend and artist Elizabeth Wentworth Roberts (1871-1927) of the Concord Art Association, as well as participate in the founding of the Ogunquit Art Association. She exhibited annually with various art associations, including shows at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and in 1930 was named the first and only woman to the Massachusetts State Art Commission.
More information about this painting...
Early in the same year, Fiske showed Portrait of William at both the Boston Art Club’s Annual Winter Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting and at the National Academy of Design’s 105th Annual Exhibition. As a figural-interior composition, the painting aligns with the favored subject of her early Boston School teachers, yet Fiske’s take reveals an artist interested in experimenting with color and form, and in exploring the unconventional placement of figures and objects within the scene.
In addition to serving as a fascinating character study, Portrait of William also demonstrates Fiske’s strong perception of light and color and her readiness to manipulate both for the purposes of her art. While the figures appear to be rendered under artificial light with stark shadow lines visible along the woman’s jawline and the edge of William’s beanie hat, the room in which they are posed remains murky, with a few rays of sun poking through the shuttered windows. Fiske’s use of secondary colors is also intriguing, as she interplays the green of the fabric on the pillows with the dotted Swiss cotton of the woman’s purple dress.
Estate of the artist
To collection, Portland, Maine
To private collection, Newbury, Massachusetts, circa 2005 to present
(in pencil along center crossbar) PORTRAIT OF WILLIAM / Gertrude Fiske – $1500—
(stamp on top stretcher) ESTATE OF / GERTRUDE FISKE / 1878 (sic) – 1961
1). (likely) Annual Winter Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting, Boston Art Club, January – February 15, 1930, as Portrait of William
2). (likely) 105th Annual Exhibition, National Academy of Design, March 20 – April 6, 1930, as no. 111 Portrait of William
 See Appendix II, Exhibition History in Aten, Carol Walker. Gertrude Fiske (1878-1961), Images of Women: 1904-1935. Masters dissertation, January 1990.