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Audio Guide - Adult

Portrait of Bessie Vance, ca. 1890

Artist: Katherine (Kate) Augusta Carl, American, ca. 1854 - 1938

Medium: Oil on canvas

Painting: 48 1/8 x 34 in. (122.2 x 86.4 cm)
Frame: 58 3/8 x 44 3/4 in. (148.3 x 113.7 cm)

Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Samuel Hamilton Brooks

Object Number: 16.4

Not on view

Mrs. Samuel Hamilton Brooks, Memphis, Tennessee, 1916

Kate Carl depicted Bessie Vance in a riding outfit, complete with veiled hat, long leather gloves, and crop.  By choosing to have herself depicted in a riding costume, rather than in more formal clothes, Bessie Vance emphasized her spirited personality. Further, her clothing suggests her family's wealth, as only the upper classes could afford to have horses solely for pleasure riding.

Although a native of Memphis, Kate Carl spent years in France studying art. During her time there, the artist traveled for several months with Bessie Vance, who was visiting France and other countries during the late 19th century. After Kate Carl's return to Memphis her friendship with Bessie Vance-later Mrs. Brooks-continued. Indeed, her enthusiasm, support, and encouragement played a major role in the foundation of the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.