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About the Portrait

Woman With Red Hair

Title: Woman with Red Hair

“This figure exemplifies the luxury and elegance of the Gilded Age. Herter framed the unidentified model’s swanlike neck, taut profile, and abundant mass of hair against a lavishly ornamented background that echoes the rich embroidery of her dress; the gossamer filaments attaching the sleeve to the bodice exhibit a refined sensitivity to the exquisitely handcrafted garments of privilege. The painting’s format recalls portraiture of the Italian Renaissance, a common aim of turn-of-the-century American artists, revealing their lofty aspirations.

“Not strictly a portrait, the painting represents the spirit of art in all its beauty, complexity, and craftsmanship. Herter, like other artists of the period, also made decorative art objects, designing and executing tapestries at the Herter Looms in America with craftsmen brought over from France. The palette of this work is jewel-like and emphasizes the surface pattern just like textiles. ”


What, you may ask yourself, does any of this have to do with Selena Jardine — author, French Professor, and Valkyrie?

Well, I’ll tell you. As Selena’s I suppose the closest label would be “publicist”, the words used to describe the portrait are the same words, rearranged, used to describe Selena and her stories. Words like “lavishly ornamented background”, “rich embroidery”, “gossamer filaments”, “exhibit a refined sensitivity”, “exquisitely handcrafted”, “turn-of-the-century American artists”, and “lofty aspirations.”

Yes, those words, and “the spirit of art in all its beauty, complexity, and craftsmanship.”


Of course, you might expect such descriptions from Selena’s self-styled Publicist (and former “hypothetical fiancé”) — but you are invited to inspect the blossoms in Selena’s Garden for yourself, and draw your own conclusions.

Gary Jordan


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