Portfolio Naples June/July 2017 - Page 34

Beauty Contest: To the Memory of P.T. Barnum, 1924 Oil on canvas, 50 x 60½ in. (127 x 152.4 cm) Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, Connecticut, Gift of Ettie Stettheimer, 1947. realistic elements; and an ornamental frame that calls attention to the artwork as an object. In addition to her work as a painter, Stettheimer was active as a costume and set designer, as well as a poet. In these en- deavors, she invested words, materials, colors, and scenes with mystery and sym- bolic value. Stettheimer’s poems were known only to a few friends during her life. Curious, funny, celebratory, always acute, the po- etry comments on a range of topics— likes and dislikes, nature, food, people, moods—casting unexpected light on the artist and her milieu. Seven of her poems are featured on the gallery walls. During the summer of 1912, while Stet- theimer was living in Paris, she attended a performance of Claude Debussy’s ballet, e Afternoon of a Faun, a production by the Ballets Russes. Stettheimer, then 40 32 PORTFOLIO MAGAZINE years old, was inspired to produce a ballet bretto), Four Saints in ree Acts (1934), of her own. From the fall of 1912, through which featured an all African American 1916, she conceived libretti and drew, cast. Rather than drawing sketches, Stet- painted, and fabricated designs for the cos- theimer conceived of the designs for the tuming of her orig- opera in three di- inal production, mensions, using handmade fig- Orpheus of the urines and minia- Four Arts. e ex- ture stages. High hibition includes many of Stet- and mass cultures theimer’s sketches, were joined in many ways; the maquettes, and production was sculptures of the staged on Broad- designs from the unrealized ballet. way, rather than in an opera house, Also on view are and Stettheimer more than a dozen Four Saints in Three Acts, performance photograph by White Studio, New York 1934 utilized many un- costume and set Florine and Ettie Stettheimer Papers, Yale Collection of American designs by Stet- usual materials for Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven theimer for the her designs—cello- ground-breaking opera by Virgil om- phane, vaudevillian feathers and sequins, son (music) and Gertrude Stein (li- and coral. Photos of the original cast by