Of particular interest are the pictures in this gallery, constituting an achievement which few other nations could rival. Devoted exclusively to the work of living American women artists, it contains convincing evidences of the good results which the emancipation of women in this country allowed them to accomplish in the field of art. The standard in this gallery is very high, and one must admit that Mr. Trask’s daring innovation of putting all the women artists in one big gallery was justified. They do hold their own, and they do not need any male assistance to convince one of their big part in the honors of the exhibition. On two opposing walls, Mary Cassatt and Cecilia Beaux give full expression of their very vital work. Miss Beaux’s work is compelling in its vigorous technique, fine colour, and daring composition. Her study in purple and yellow is bold and unusually successful. On other walls more portraits by Ellen Emmet Rand continue to hold our attention, particularly the little girl and the black cat. The portraits of our women painters are all far more original in composition and colour arrangement than those of the men. Mary Cassatt’s reputation is so universally established as not to need any introduction. Her art is more French in the many tone gradations of atmosphere than that of her American colleagues who are more decorative. Among others Jean McLane, Mr. Johansen’s wife, and Annie Lang excel in a certain breadth of style; while Mrs. Richardson charms by the sympathetic rendering of the pride and happiness of the young mother. The composition of this picture, while it is unusual, is successfully managed. The impression one gains from this large gallery is most satisfying in every way. The many portraits done by men seen in various galleries of the exhibition would scarcely make as good a showing in a group as the work of the women, and it was very wise not to attempt it.
An approach to the rest of the American section might be made through the one-man rooms, and since we are on the south side, and for other perfectly good reasons — not the least, that of importance — we might start with Whistler.
No gallery reflects so much the really serious artist, in his eternal struggle to express himself simply and exhaustively in line, form, and colour, as does this Whistler group. A feeling of dissatisfaction, expressed by many indications of experimentation and change, of searching for the right line, is clearly indicated in all of these paintings. He often gives you a chance to choose between a number of tantalizing forms and lines. It is very apparent that he set himself a high, almost an unattainable standard, toward which he worked with varying success. His emotions must have been constantly swinging between the greatest heights of joy and the abyss of despair.