Head of a Young Woman
10 1/4 x 8 1/4 in. (26 x 21 cm)
Thomas W. Dewing
(Boston, MA, 1851 - 1938, New York, NY)
Medium and Support:
Silver point on gesso-coated wood-pulp paper board
Bertha Buswell Bequest
Location: Not currently on view
Head of a Young Woman is the only silver point drawing in MAG’s collection. It is also the only American artwork that was given to the Gallery by Bertha Buswell, whose taste ran nearly exclusively to European fine and decorative arts. Unfortunately, we do not know anything about how or why she acquired such an anomaly, albeit a beautiful one, for her collection.
Silver point was a technique used extensively in the Renaissance and revived in the United States in the late 19th century. Every line was created by dragging a silver stylus across the surface of a specially-prepared paper. The stylus left a trail of silver on the paper, requiring perfect control by the artist, as this was not a forgiving medium where mistakes could be corrected with an eraser. With exposure to the air, the silver tarnished and created a warm brown tone. Because of the fragility of the silver and the paper, this lovely work is rarely exhibited.
[Label text from It Came From the Vault exhibition, 2013]