Hans Hofmann (American/German, 1880-1966)
Jeannette Carles (Mrs. Herbert Matter)
Signed and dated 'hans hofmann/34' bottom center right; also inscribed with title and artist verso, oil on panel
54 1/2 x 40 1/2 in. (138.4 x 102.9cm)
Estate of Hans Hofmann (no. M-0160).
André Emmerich Gallery, New York, New York.
Acquired directly from the above in 1987.
Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Jeffrey Glick, until 1995.
André Emmerich Gallery, New York.
Arij Gasiunasen Gallery, Palm Beach, Florida.
Acquired directly from the above.
Collection of Mr. Stephen E. Myers.
Private Collection, New York, New York.
"Hans Hofmann: Painter and Teacher," Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts, January 2-February 22, 1948.
"Hans Hofmann: The Pre-War Years in America," André Emmerich Gallery, New York, New York, January 9-February 7, 1987.
"Hans Hofmann," Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York, June 20-September 16, 1990; and Center for the Fine Arts, Miami, Florida, November 23, 1990-January 20, 1991; and The Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, Virginia, February 17-April 14, 1991 (traveling exhibition, only shown in New York as Jeanette [sic] Carles (Mercedes Carles Matter)).
Hans Hofmann et al., Search for the Real, and Other Essays, Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts, 1948, p. 82 (illustrated as installation view); and the M.I.T. Press for revised edition of March 15, 1967, p. 76 (also illustrated as installation view).
Hans Hofmann et al., Hans Hofmann, The Pre-War Years in America, an exhibition catalogue, The Gallery, New York, New York, 1986, no. 5 (illustrated).
Cynthia Goodman et al., Hans Hofmann, an exhibition catalogue, Prestel, Munich, 1990, no. 38, p. 36 (illustrated as Jeanette [sic] Carles (Mercedes Matter)).
Cynthia Goodman, [Hans Hofmann] Portraits: The Lives and Works of Eminent Artists, unknown publisher, 1991, vol. 1, no. 4, illustrated on the cover as Jennette [sic] Carles (Mercedes Carles Matter)).
Ellen Landau et al., Mercedes Matter, MB Art Publishing, New York, New York, 2009, no. 36, illustrated p. 30 as Jeanne (Mercedes) Carles and commented p. 31.
Suzy Villiger, Hans Hofmann Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, vol. II: Catalogue Entries P1-P846 (1901-1951), Lund Humprhies, Burlington, 2014, no. P14, p. 16 (illustrated as Jeannette Carles (Mrs. Herbert Matter)).
Lucinda Barnes et al., Hans Hofmann: The Nature of Abstraction, University of California Press, Berkeley, 2019, no. 24, commented p. 68 and illustrated p. 69 as Jeannette Carles (Mrs. Herbert Matter).
After a hiatus of two years during which he only drew in black and white, Hans Hofmann returned to the easel in 1934, starting an innovative series of flamboyant landscapes, which announced his most experimental period. In the eyes of scholars, this rejuvenation was favored by his student Mercedes Carles (later Mercedes Matter), with whom Hofmann had just spent an idyllic summer in Gloucester, Massachusetts.
Mercedes, the daughter of Philadelphia artist Arthur B. Carles and actress Mercedes de Cordoba (who used to model for Edward Steichen as well as other members of the Photo Secession Group), began painting at an early age, working alongside her father in the French countryside. Following her parents' divorce, the teen lived with her mother and received a privileged education in Europe. Upon her return to the States, she reconnected with her father and studied in New York, where she met Alexander Archipenko in 1932, the same year she joined Hofmann's classes at the Art Students League. Despite Hofmann's gender-biased teaching methods, Mercedes grew to be one of the artist's favorite students, and the two eventually developed a complicated mentor/father/lover relationship, which proved to be a formative and impressionable experience for both of them.
During the summer of 1934, Mercedes joined Hofmann and her own father in "The Little Studio," a house in Gloucester where both had received an invitation to lecture at the Thun School of Art. Mercedes had not seen her father for several years, and as Joan Marter points, "the sojourn was an occasion to present herself to him as a young woman and aspiring modernist painter." The present portrait of Mercedes, shown seated at her desk next to a stack of canvases, eyes locked on the viewer, evidently shows the special bond between the teacher and his student, whose nickname and confirmation name, Jeannette, is affectionately used as the title of the work. While the quick brushwork and disorganized room reflect the creative mind of the sitter, the striking blue and green hues create a moody feeling. It is carefully counterbalanced by the subtle hint of green underlining her left eye, which betrays the fiery temperament of beautiful, dark-haired Mercedes.