George Henry Hall - Graziella
George Henry Hall (1825-1913), American
OIL ON CANVAS, 33 x 25 inches
Gift of Horace Fairbanks
Hall's Graziella is one of several works that Fairbanks purchased at the National Academy of Design in New York's famed annual exhibitions. The annuals were the most important venue for the exhibition of contemporary American art during the mid-nineteenth century and works submitted for display were required not to have been shown elsewhere beforehand. The result was a highly anticipated cultural event to which many artists, including Hall, sent their finest compositions in hopes of strong sales, good reviews, and public notice.
Hall enjoyed great popularity as a still life painter, but his Graziella demonstrates his simultaneous interests in the human figure and exotic cultures. In an 1891 letter, the artist recalled his sitter, whom he painted while visiting Rome in 1873:"The name of the little girl who posed for me was Graziella, and she was exactly like the picture." Her brilliantly colored peasant costume accentuates the movement of her dance.