Francis Welch Crowninshield, 24 Jun 1872 - 28 Dec 1947
Graphite on paper
Sheet: 30.1 x 22.8 cm (11 7/8 x 9")
Matted B size
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Alan and Lois Fern Acquisition Fund
Born Paris, France
In 1915, when New York City’s vice squad attempted to confiscate from an exhibition the whimsical female nudes drawn by Clara Tice, the incident vaulted the young Greenwich Village artist into the limelight and charmed Vanity Fair’s influential editor, Frank Crowninshield. He soon began to publish Tice’s sketches in the magazine, helping to launch her career. A discerning scout for new talent, Crowninshield, while cultured and cosmopolitan, admitted to a “perhaps preposterous” preference for the new over the old in society, arts, and culture. Vanity Fair published modern French and American painting and the work of T. S. Elliot and Gertrude Stein but also embraced humor and the popular arts. Crowninshield’s admiration for Tice was rewarded by this teasing portrait, in which slender nudes form his face while one of his beloved cats represents his famous mustache.