Like an adolescent primed for a date – Portrait of Mrs. Howe by Alfred Stevens

Portrait of Mrs. Howe by Alfred Stevens

Blending with the crimson, carmine, and maraschino cherry reds, Eleanor’s petite head captures the light streaking from her left. The wall, sofa, dress and fine lips share the same rare gradient tones. Each element of this sanguine composition fit into one another like Russian dolls. The pleats of Eleanor’s dress follow the twirls of the sofa’s patterns. Her cheeks, slightly blushed, echo the depth of the wall behind her. She resembles an adolescent primed for a date, embarrassed by her natural beauty. Unaware of her elegance, she hides behind a childish glance.

It is almost time for Eleanor to leave home and socialise, mingle with aristocrats and bourgeoisie. Her red dress reveals a woman’s body but her frail face, tiny hair bun, and her marble dark eyes reveal her young spirit. She wishes she could become transparent to others, step in between guests and walk out whenever she desires. Tonight, she will stand out, and her red dress will not match with any of the salon’s furniture.

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