Urgent Museum Notice


Close up of June

Impressionistic half-portrait of a light-skinned young woman wearing a checkered dress in neutral tones, her brown hair in a high, loose bun. She is seated in a wooden chair, backlit from a sun-filled window, with her head bowed and focusing on the sewing project in her lap.

Ellen Day Hale, June, ca. 1893; Oil on canvas, 24 x 18 1/8 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay; Photo by Lee Stalsworth

Ellen Day Hale

Ellen Day Hale produced landscapes and large religious murals, but she specialized in figure studies, such as June, painted in an Impressionist manner. Like the 17th-century Dutch masters whose work she admired, Hale excelled at depicting solitary women in light-filled interiors, absorbed in domestic pursuits.

Here the sitter concentrates on her sewing, completely ignoring the dazzling landscape beyond the window. Hale’s extremely loose brushwork is visible in the thickly impastoed areas behind the sitter’s head. Yet we can clearly perceive the woman’s thimble and the quick movements of her needle glinting in the sunlight.

The dark chair contrasts with the bright light that floods in and picks out a few strands of the woman’s upswept hair. Hale communicates the atmosphere through her rendering of the woman’s dress. She flattens the check pattern in certain sections, allows the right shoulder to dissolve into the light, and adds the unexpected, humanizing touch of a missing button, of which the seamstress seems ironically unaware.

This canvas was presumably painted in Santa Barbara, California, where Hale lived from 1892 to 1893.

Artwork Details

  • Artist

    Ellen Day Hale
  • Title

  • Date

    ca. 1893
  • Medium

    Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions

    24 x 18 1/8 in.
  • Donor Credit

    Gift of Wallace and Wilhelmina Holladay
  • Photo Credit

    Lee Stalsworth
  • On Display