The Complete Works of Philippe Smit
by Andreas Narzt and Florence Castellani
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Catalogue entry

Photo: Christopher Burke Studios, NY; © FdDPS
Photo: Christopher Burke Studio, NY; FdDPS
Original frame designed by the artist.




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Classification: Pastel »
Theme: figurative »
Medium: Pastel »
Support: on cardboard »
Year(s): 1921 »
PS 229 (P 213)
Marijke with White Feather Fan
Alternate titles: Jonge-meisjesportret; Mädchenbildnis; Meisjesportret; Mrs. Pitcairn (with white fan); Portrait d'une jeune fille à l'éventail; Portrait of Marijeke [sic] Pitcairn
Pastel on cardboard
53 13/16 x 42 11/16 in. (136.5 x 108.5 cm) (sight size)
Neither signed, nor dated
Inv. T. P., Ptgs etc. at Bryn Athyn, n.d. [c. 1940], Glencairn archives: no. [22] [P 213], p. [1], Mrs. T. Pitcairn, Smit, 43 1/2 x 56 [in.].
Inv. Pitcairn, n.d. [c.1957], n.p., LNC archives: no. P 213, Rev. Theodore Pitcairn, Mrs. Pitcairn with white fan, Smit, Pastel, 54 x 43 [in.].
Kunstzaal Fetter, Amsterdam, Netherlands, [unknown title], November, 1921, as Jonge-meisjesportret, (see Niehaus 1921).
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, Collection of the Rev. and Mrs. Theodore Pitcairn, June 17–September 15, 1960, no. 29, Pastel, 54 x 43 [in.], 1920, Mrs. Pitcairn (with white fan), 11-1960-29 (title and n° on receipt of return).
Literature & Primary Sources
Niehaus, Kasper. "PHILIPPE SMIT: Kunstzaal Fetter." De Telegraaf (Amsterdam), 30-11-1921, p. 9, as Jonge-meisjesportret.
Philippe Smit. ALS to René Massé. Recloses, n.d. [10 June 1922].
Niehaus, Kasper. "Philippe Smit." Het Getij. Maandschrift voor kunst en letteren VII (1922), ill. in b/w p. 83, as Meisjesportret.
Niehaus, Kasper. "Schilderkunst, Philippe Smit." Maandblad voor beeldende kunsten Eerste Jaargang, n°11 (11/1924), p. 323, "… een jonge meisjes portret …."
Niehaus, Kasper. Philippe Smit, unkown genius. Revised and edited by Marjorie Bell. Typescript, 1955, p. 29, as Portrait d'une jeune fille à l'éventail.
"Art Aids Clergymen to Support His Charities." Arizona Republic (Phoenix, Arizona), 25-12-1967, p. 94, ill. in b/w.
"Wealthy Pastor Is a Real Do-Gooder." Battle Creek Enquirer (Battle Creek, Michigan), 24-12-1967, p. 21, ill. in b/w.
The Sunday Bulletin Philadelphia, 08-10-1967, Section 1, 24 – XI.
B.A. "Bilder brachten Millionen." Salzburger Nachrichten (Salzburg), 8-6-1968, p. 16, ill. in b/w, as Mädchenbildnis.
Castleton Thomas, Virginia. "Theodore Pitcairn, Minister and Philanthropist." ? ? [1968 ?], as Portrait of Marijeke [sic] Pitcairn.
"[…] Malgré ma Maladie de cette hiver/ j’ai beaucoup travailler. Mais la vie de/ Paris me fatigue beaucoup. Ma santé/ n’ai [est] pas encore ce que j’était auparavant/ enfin pourvu que je peut rendre mes rêves/ et de temps a autres aller vers cette divines forêts quelles beauté! […] ici il y a eu de grand changement. nous/ avee [avons] transformé la grand[e] pièce/ pour avoir plus de place pour les tableaus. […] ci-joint un portrait de Maryke [piece joint perdue] de ce/ tableaux qui est parti en Amerique/ et puis aussi le concert d’Ange/ avec les cignes. aussi parti en Amerique […] portrait de Maryke./ divan couleurs vieux tabac./ jupe bleu céleste avec corsage velours bleu/ foncé. ruban dans les cheveux. noir/ vieil-or vieux violet. rideaux des ors/ et des ocres rouges. éventail blanc en plumes [...]" [sic] (... Despite my illness this winter I have worked a lot. But life in Paris greatly exhausts me. My health is not as good as it was before. Well as long as I can achieve my dreams and go from time to time to this divine forest, what beauty. … Big changes were made here. We have transformed the large room to have more space for the paintings. … Attached a portrait of Maryke [attachement lost], the painting which has left for America and the concert of an angel with swans, also gone to America. … Portrait of Maryke: old tobacco coloured divan, sky blue skirt, dark blue velvet bodice, black, old gold, old violet bow in the hair, golden and red ochre curtains, white feather fan. ...) (Philippe Smit 1922)

This pastel, along with Spring Song [PS 227], is Theodore Pitcairn’s first purchase in 1921, while travelling in Europe.1 Ernst Pfeiffer is the intermediary. This acquisition will have a decisive influence on Marijke’s life, for the buyer succumbs to the charm of this young girl, sixteen years old at the time. He will marry her in 1926.
The portrait is a truly key work as it stands at the beginning of a deep love and also of a patronage and a profound friendship between the artist and Theodore Pitcairn. It will be a deciding factor for Phillpe Smit’s career, since this first purchase convinces Theodore Pitcairn of the worth of the painter, from whom he will buy a significant part of his production throughout his life.
The purpose of the trip to Europe is, among other things, to find an artist who is able to execute portraits of the clergy and members of the church2 of the Pitcairn brothers.
At the end of 1921, Ernst Pfeiffer handled sending the two pastels to Raymond Pitcairn.3 In a letter sent to Theodore, who had been staying for months in South Africa, Raymond relays his mixed feelings about the portrait: "[…] I have had a very good/ opportunity to study the two pictures of his which you purchased as they have/ been hanging in the house for some time. The portrait of the girl would/ stand out as a successful picture in any modern exhibition. The lips may/ look a little painty and there may be a slight lack of refinement in the/ execution, however the picture is strong and wears well. […]"4

1. "[…] In Holland I bought/ two paintings or rather/ pastels from a friend/ of Mr. Pfeifer [sic] Philip[pe]/ Smit. I feel certain/ he is the greatest/ living artiste quite/ a young man. I/ wish he could come/ to B. A. [Bryn Athyn] and paint/ the Elder Bishop [PS 246]./ I met him and liked/ him very much. […]" (Theodore Pitcairn, ALS to his brother Raymond, 6 August [1921], Glencairn archives).
2. See [PS 246], [PS 244] and Chronology 1921.
3. "I am writing you on behalf of my friend Mr. Philippe Smit, the/ artist from whom, as you probably know,/ Theodore has bought two pastels. […]" (Ernst Pfeiffer, ALS to Raymond Pitcairn, Scheveningen, 27 November 1921, Glencairn archives).
4. Raymond Pitcairn, TLS to his brother Theodore, Bryn Athyn, 5 April 1922 (Glencairn archives).

See biographical note on Marijke Pitcairn.

Additional images
Painting hanging in the large living room in Theodore Pitcairn's house, Bryn Athyn (photograph, before 1945, private archives, Paris).
Portrait of Marijke hanging between those of her mother [PS 298] and her eldest daughter Miriam [PS 394], large living room in Theodore Pitcairn's house, Bryn Athyn (photograph, after 1945, courtesy of Mrs. Michael Pitcairn, LNC archives).
Record last updated December 10, 2018. Please note that the information on this and all pages is periodically reviewed and subject to change.
Citation: Narzt, Andreas and Castellani, Florence. "Marijke with White Feather Fan, 1921 (PS 229)." The Complete Works of Philippe Smit. (accessed on May 21, 2024).