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At the Evening Party: Woman in White with a Fan, 1883-1884

Jean-Louis Forain
French, 1852-1931
Pastel on paper
21-3/4 x 18 in. (55.2 x 45.7cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation, from the Estate of Jennifer Jones Simon
M.2010.1.196.P
© Norton Simon Art Foundation

On view

In this delicate study of a woman buttoning her glove, Forain gives us a glimpse of the cloakroom at the entrance to a fashionable Parisian ball. At left, a woman with her back turned to the viewer has just handed her belongings to an attendant; at right, a gentleman in evening dress lingers near the doorway of the bright room beyond. The protagonist of the picture, however, is the young woman in white, who prepares to enter the party. Light strokes of pastel convey the textures of this figure’s pale feathered fan and tulle skirt, while a denser application of the medium articulates dark garments and shadows. Forain likely took up pastel at the urging of Degas, who invited him to participate in the Impressionist exhibitions during this period.

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