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This painting depicts Natalie Clifford Barney (1876-1972), the eldest daughter of Washington, D.C., socialite and painter Alice Pike Barney (1857-1931), who studied with the artist in Paris. Known for his realistic portraits, Carolus-Duran felt he could capture a sitter's character through his or her gestures and expression. Natalie's confident demeanor and inquisitive gaze, accentuated by her dark clothing, suggest her willful independence as a child. As an adult, Natalie hosted intellectual gatherings in her Paris home. She was one of the first openly lesbian modern writers and had a fifty-year relationship with artist Romaine Brooks.

Credit: Gift of Laura Dreyfus Barney and Natalie Clifford Barney in memory of their mother, Alice Pike Barney

1887
Oil on canvas
79.7 x 59.7cm
1972.181.2
Image and text: Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2024

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