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Self Portrait by Alice Pike Barney, 1905
Notes from WIKIPEDIA

"Alice Pike Barney (born Alice Pike, 1857 – 1931) was an American painter. She was active in Washington, D.C. and worked to make Washington into a center of the arts.

"Her two daughters were the writer and salon hostess Natalie Clifford Barney and the Bahá'í writer Laura Clifford Barney.[1]

"When Natalie wrote a chapbook of French poetry, Quelques Portraits-Sonnets de Femmes (Some Portrait-Sonnets of Women), Barney was pleased to provide illustrations. She did not understand the implications of the book's love poems addressed to women and had no idea that three of the four women who modeled for her were her daughter's lovers. Albert, alerted to the book's theme by a newspaper review headlined 'Sappho Sings in Washington.' rushed to Paris, where he bought and destroyed the publisher's remaining stock and printing plates and insisted that Barney and Natalie return with him to the family's summer home in Bar Harbor, Maine. His temper only worsened when friends forwarded him clippings from the Washington Mirror. The Alice Pike Barney Studio House (now the Embassy of Latvia) is listed on the National Register of Historic Places."

The Brass Kettle (detail, 1890)
by Alice Pike Barney
"Washington, about to publish its first Social Register, was becoming more socially stratified, and Barney's background as the daughter of a whiskey distiller and granddaughter of a Jewish immigrant had made her the subject of vague insinuations in the society pages. The gossip would have no lasting effect on the Barneys' social standing, but [her husband] Albert considered it a disaster. His drinking increased, as did his blood pressure, and two months later he had a heart attack. His health continued to deteriorate, and he died in 1902.

"Barney had solo shows at major galleries including the Corcoran Gallery of Art. In later years, she invented and patented mechanical devices, wrote and performed in several plays and an opera, and worked to promote the arts in Washington, D.C. Many of her paintings are now in the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum."

Notes from
THE ALICE PIKE BARNEY MEMORIAL COLLECTION

Delight Hall, National Collection of Fine Arts

"Alice Pike Barney was both gifted and versatile. Her oils and pastels in the Alice Pike Barney Memorial Lending Collection are but a part of her considerable legacy of art begun in 1894 and continued until her death.

"In addition to being a painter Alice Barney was a philanthropist and a prominent hostess and civic leader. She was also at various times a playwright and a producer of plays, impressive pageants, and tableaux. During her travels she collected numerous objects d'art which were later donated to the Smithsonian Institution. [...] But of her many accomplishments, it is her painting which is certain to give her an enduring reputation. [...] Unaffected by the revolutionary artistic influences of the early twentieth century, her painting reflects the chivalrous milieu in which she lived. [...]

"Painting was for Alice Barney an enrichment of her capacity for living. Throughout her painting career this artist had three different approaches to her work: one, enlightened realism; two impression (not French Impressionism); three, imaginative interpretation. While works of the heightened realism category dominate her early career, Alice Barney appears to have used all three approaches interchangeably. However, she is especially known for her portraits because of the prominence of her sitters and the number of these works."

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