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La Madrileñita

A work made of oil on canvas.

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  • A work made of oil on canvas.




Robert Henri
American, 1865–1929

About this artwork

Robert Henri dedicated his career to painting portraits of those he called “my people,” namely, sitters who evoked a personal response in the artist. He found many appealing subjects while traveling in Spain, including matadors and picadors, gypsies, dressmakers, and performers. Henri admired the subject of La Madrileñita, a 15-year-old dancer named Josefa Cruz, for her talent and traditional training, as he later recalled: “Although very young she was already a very remarkable dancer at the time the painting was done, and it seemed to me that she had in her carriage … much of the spirit and dignity of old Spain.” Henri painted six
portraits of Cruz; in this version, completed over the course of two days, she turns her head to look over her shoulder, directly engaging the viewer in a poised and assured manner. Her enigmatic smile bears a sense of mystery that is heightened by the darkness beyond.


On View, Gallery 272


Arts of the Americas


Robert Henri


La Madrileñita


Spain (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Oil on canvas


58.4 × 48.3 cm (23 × 19 in.)

Credit Line

Bequest of Barbara S. Danielson

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

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