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Pepita by Robert Henri

Pepita, 1917

Robert Henri

Painted in Santa Fe, New Mexico, this striking portrait shows a Native American girl. Her serious expression and direct gaze contrast with the softness of her rosy cheeks and full red mouth. The artist saw Native people as noble and mysterious, an idea he has captured, or imposed, in this image. He wrote that he preferred to paint children, saying, “In the faces of children I have seen a look of wisdom and of kindness expressed with such ease and such certainty...” The colorful background may be a traditional blanket, but Henri chose not to emphasize it, fearing it would detract from the impact of the figure.

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