The Black Fan (Portrait of Mrs. Talcott Williams)Made in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, North and Central America
Thomas Eakins, American, 1844 - 1916
Oil on canvas
1929-184-30Gift of Mrs. Thomas Eakins and Miss Mary Adeline Williams, 1929
LabelThe subject of The Black Fan, Mrs. Sophia Wells Royce Williams (c. 1850-1928), was the wife of Eakins's friend, Talcott Williams, a journalist at the Philadelphia Press. Shortly after their arrival in Philadelphia in 1881, the Williamses met Eakins, who shared the couple's interests in archaeology and photography. Eakins painted The Black Fan around the time that he was working on The Concert Singer (Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1929-184-19 ), which it resembles in scale and composition. In the manner of many society portraits, the picture shows the attractive Mrs. Williams at leisure in an evening gown, with the partially folded fan in her hand adding an elegant touch. For reasons that remain unclear, Eakins never finished the portrait, but he exhibited it to much acclaim in 1914.
* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.