Thomas Wilmer Dewing (1851-1938) -- through January 5 at the Freer, on the Mall at 12th and Jefferson Drive SW, 10 to 5:30 daily.
Thomas Wilmer Dewing painted women who strut and pose and ponder and brood. Combining Impressionistic nuance with classical French traditionalism. Dewing's paintings and drawings evoke the stylish attitudes of beautiful, fanciful females who dressed impeccably, read poetry and played exotic musical instruments at the turn of the century.
A selection of Dewing's elegant ladies are now on view at the Smithsonian's Freer Gallery. (Though Charles Lang Freer is best remembered for his extensive collection of Oriental artwork, he was also one of Dewing's avid patron; throughout the artist's prolific career, Freer encouraged him and acquired many of his paintings.)
Dewey's early works emphasize the classical skills and techniques of drawing; the subject of his paintings often were distinguished from their backgrounds by hard, linear edges. By the 1890s, though, his use of crisp, real detail had diminished while his apparent preoccupation with the female figure grew and flourished.
In "The Mirror," an oil on wood finished in 1907, Dewing's thin and angular model gazes pensively at her own reflection; soft impressions of light and color cascade delicately around her. "Portrait of a Young Girl," an earlier oil (1888), is stark and direct, though intimations of Dewing's budding Impressionism are evident. The regal "Blue Dress" (oil on wood, 1892) and the cool, detached "Garland" (oil on canvas, 1913) share a similar continuity, despite the decades between them.
Many of the 28 works in the Freer show will be displayed in their original glided wire-mesh frames designed by architect Stanford White. The gallery's guided walking tours, offered free Monday through Friday at 2, will include the Dewing exhibit on Tuesdays and Fridays.