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At the Evening Party: Woman in White with a Fan, 1883-1884

Jean-Louis Forain

French, 1852-1931
Pastel on paper
21-3/4 x 18 in. (55.2 x 45.7cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation, from the Estate of Jennifer Jones Simon
© Norton Simon Art Foundation

On view

Jean-Louis Forain was one of the great chroniclers of urban life during the Impressionist age. Rather than exposing the difficult realities of the modern era, like his teacher Degas, more often than not Forain focused on the joie de vivre that defined Paris in the 1870s. Forain’s quick delineation of chalk in the feathery fan, in the subject’s upswept hair, and in the fine depiction of her fingers and gloves, speaks to Forain’s exquisite drawing skills. His mastery of pastel also extended to the medium itself: here, the unfixed, unvarnished chalk grants a subtle moody quality to the otherwise glittering scene of a woman entering an evening party.

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