Gerald Peters Gallery Contemporary

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Alice Levi Duncan
Senior Director

Bonnie Glass (born Helen Roche in 1895) was a famous dancer in Vaudeville during the early years of the 20th century—therefore very much involved in the theater world that Everett Shinn depicted so often.  Glass was an ideal subject for Shinn, and his use of pastel (his preferred medium) and the large portrait format in this work showcases the beauty, grace, and stylish attitude of the talented young woman.

While Glass was headlining at the Public Theater, some of her dance partners were Clifton Webb and Rudolph Valentino, who would have been performing with her when Shinn painted this pastel. Both male dancers went on to major careers as Hollywood movie stars.

By 1915, she became the manager of Café Montmartre, a popular club in Manhattan. She was responsible for the choreography, design of the costumes and sets, as well as discovering new talent. Contemporary reviews complimented her dancing and raved about her beauty and chic style.

A photograph of Glass in the 1916 edition of Metropolitan magazine shows her in the same fur-edged velvet coat as she wears in this pastel. That same year she married the society painter Ben Ali Hagen. Another photograph of Glass in a similar wide brimmed black chapeau is from the same year.