Description & Technical information

A splendid example of Louis Welden Hawkins’s refined draughtsmanship in pen and ink, this drawing is likely to be a design for an advertisement for fans. The particularly Symbolist fascination with the mask as an artistic device (as seen, for example, in the work of Fernand Khnopff) is here balanced by elements and motifs - stylized vegetation and curved lines – derived from the vocabulary of Art Nouveau. From about 1900 onwards Hawkins produced a series of drawings of portrait masks; these were intended as advertising images or magazine illustrations, as well as designs for fans and mirrors, and, occasionally, as illustrations for menus, theatre and concert programmes. Perhaps the best known of Hawkins’s mask designs was one created for the goldsmiths Christofle et Cie. and used as an advertisement during the Exposition Universelle of 1900. 

A similar drawing of a mask by Hawkins is in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, while four other drawings of masks, each with female heads, are in private collections. Also similar to the drawing here exhibited, though not in the form of a mask, is Hawkins’s design for another advertisement for the Christofle firm, published in 1901 in the magazine L’oeuvre d’art international, edited by the artist’s brother-in-law. It has been noted of these drawings that ‘In his masks, Hawkins used Art Nouveau floral motifs as decoration, depicted in two dimensions. This is in contrast with the faces which have acquired volume thanks to shadow effects and have been drawn with very realistic detail....’

The model for this drawing may have been the artist’s daughter Jacqueline (b.1892), who posed for a number of her father’s works of this period.

Date:  1900
Period:  1850-1900, 19th century
Origin:  Germany, France
Medium: Pen, Black ink on textured paper, laid down on card
Signature: Signed with the artist’s monogram LWH in a circle at the bottom.

Dimensions: 37.6 x 26.7 cm (14³/₄ x 10¹/₂ inches)
Provenance: The artist’s daughter, Jacqueline W. Hawkins, Paris.

Literature: Gilles Almy, Louis Welden Hawkins peintre (1849-1910), unpublished MA thesis, Université Paris X Nanterre, 1983, no.63 (where dated 1900-1901).

Categories: Paintings, Drawings & Prints