The Portraits

Rose O'Neill

Rose O'Neill

Artist
James Montgomery Flagg, 18 Jun 1877 - 27 May 1960
Sitter
Rose O'Neill, 25 Jun 1874 - 6 Apr 1944
Date
c. 1914
Type
Drawing
Medium
Charcoal, graphite and crayon on illustration board
Dimensions
Image: 23.9 x 17.2cm (9 7/16 x 6 3/4")
Board: 30.5 x 21.4cm (12 x 8 7/16")
Mat: 45.7 x 35.6cm (18 x 14")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Rights
©Cathy O'Brien
Object number
NPG.98.24
Exhibition Label
Famed illustrator James Montgomery Flagg was a fixture of New York's smart set, and he often sketched from life the figures he encountered. In 1914 he published The Well-Knowns, a book of his celebrity portraits, which included this image of illustrator Rose O'Neill. Despite Flagg's acerbic streak, no one could achieve softer, more sensuous effects from charcoal and pencil, and this drawing suggests his strong admiration for O'Neill. Giving a jaunty tilt to her head, he implies independence and brilliance as well as beauty. In 1909 O'Neill had become a phenomenon for her impish little cupids, called "kewpies," whose gestures she based on memories of a baby brother. They evolved into a marketing bonanza that lasted a quarter-century, generating the wildly popular kewpie dolls, as well as china, wallpaper, fabric, knickknacks, and even a Broadway musical.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
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National Portrait Gallery Collection