Joseph Hirsch (American, 1901-1981) , Portrait of a Woman with Necklac – Lofty Marketplace
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Joseph Hirsch (American, 1901-1981) , Portrait of a Woman with Necklace, oil on canvas, signed

Joseph Hirsch (American, 1901-1981) , Portrait of a Woman with Necklace, oil on canvas, signed

Item Description:

Signed "Joseph Hirsch" lower left, framed


Appears fine. Please contact for specific condition questions. Not examined out of the frame. Lofty does not guarantee the condition or authenticity of frames.


Private collection, Siesta Key, Sarasota, Florida

Sale of Burchard Auction Galleries, St. Petersburg, Florida, 23 February, 2014, lot 1215 (as "Body Unmasked")


Sight: Height 24 in. x Width 20 in.

Frame: Height 29 in. x Width 25 in.

About The Artist:

Joseph Hirsch was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At the age of seventeen, Hirsch was given a scholarship to attend the Pennsylvania Museum School of Industrial Art in Philadelphia. After his formal studies, Hirsch became a student of George Luks in New York, of the Ashcan School, and Henry Hensche, a German American Impressionist painter in Provincetown, Massachusetts. The Ashcan school was an American Art movement that started in New York City during the turn of the century. Artists like George Luks painted the city’s labor force and poorer neighborhoods. Hirsch continued this tradition of Social Realism in his own work by painting heroicized scenes of daily life in Philadelphia. Though Hirsch immortalized ordinary people in his paintings and murals, as a humanist he also strived to reveal their private desires and hardships.

Hirsch's subjects often connect with the viewer on a basic level of human understanding. Hirsch earned accolades and recognition early on in his career. In 1934, he was awarded the Walter Lippincott Award at the Annual Exhibition of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. One year later, he was awarded the Woolley Fellowship that let him study in Paris for a year. He won the Guggenheim Fellowship twice, followed by several exhibition prizes and awards, including a Fulbright Fellowship. Hirsch'€™s work was much admired by the public, and his work was voted the best painting in the Exhibition of Contemporary American Art at the 1939 World'€™s Fair in New York. He was a member of the Artists League of America, the National Institute of Arts and Letters, the Century Association, and the Philadelphia Watercolor Club. He was also the first treasurer of Artist Equity, an association which strived to protect artists'€™ rights. As an instructor, Hirsch taught at the Chicago Art Institute, the National Academy of Design, and the Art Students League. Hirsch worked as a muralist for the Federal Works Progress Administration in the 1930s and his work decorated many public buildings in Philadelphia. As an artist-correspondent during World War II, Hirsch travelled to the South Pacific, North Africa, and Italy.

Hirsch's work is represented in several public and private collections such as the Navy Art Collection in Washington, D.C., the Museum of Fine Art in Boston, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The woman in Hirsch'€™s portrait, though oblivious to the examining faces of the older men behind her, gazes proudly at the viewer. She is not an idealized female form, but rather has the body of an aging, ordinary woman. This portrayal is consistent with Hirsch'€™s Social Realist subjects. It is not her body that makes her an intriguing subject, but the boldness and perhaps even defiance that radiates from her. In the act of unmasking, the woman cares little about the judgement that may have come from the men and the viewer. The bright red background may have been suppressing to other subjects with less self esteem, but this woman stands matter-of-fact against it. This portrait celebrates the beauty that does not come from aesthetics, but from confidence, courage, and sense of self.


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