Painted on Monhegan Island in Maine in August 1914, this portrait represents Florence Sittenham Davey, the wife of Bellows’s friend, the artist Randall Davey. Florence Davey was a modernist sculptor who had studied with Alexander Archipenko. According to the Daveys’ son William, Bellows lost a considerable amount of money to his father playing pool and painted the portrait to settle his debt.
This work, along with the many other portraits that Bellows produced on Monhegan Island in 1914, is noteworthy for achieving a new expressive power and intensity through the use of assertive frontal poses, geometric compositions, brilliant color, and intense light. Bellows had been prompted to reevaluate his approach to color in part after seeing works by Henri Matisse and the European avant-garde at the Armory Show the previous year. At the time Bellows was already beginning to experiment with the chromatic possibilities of the set-palettes diagrammed by Harvard University professor Denman Waldo Ross in his influential 1912 publication On Drawing and Painting.