About this artwork
Ivan Albright was born and lived most of his life in the Chicago area; because of these ties, he left many of his paintings to the Art Institute, which as a result boasts the largest public collection of the artist’s works. While Albright’s unique style has been called Magic Realism, it defies categorization. His painstaking creative process, driven by his need to record detail meticulously, involved designing sets for his paintings and creating studies of models and props—even making diagrammatic plans for colors. Albright’s desire to present the minutest subtleties of human flesh or the tiniest elements of a still life often required that he spend years on a single painting. His experience as a medical illustrator during World War I is often cited as a determinant of his later, haunting portrayals of aging and decay.
Albright began Into the World There Came a Soul Called Ida in 1929 after Ida Rogers, then about twenty years old, answered Albright’s advertisement for a model. Ida was an attractive young wife and mother, whom Albright transformed into a sorrowful, middle-aged woman sitting in her dressing room, her flesh drooping, and the objects surrounding her worn and bare. With characteristic precision, the artist delineated even the individual hairs in the comb on the table. The material lightness and precarious placement of her possessions on the dressing table and floor seem to symbolize the vulnerability of the sitter, making this a modern vanitas painting. Ida gazes forlornly and poignantly into the mirror and, with all the dignity she can muster, powders her aging flesh.
- Ivan Albright
- Into the World There Came a Soul Called Ida
- United States
- Oil on canvas
- Inscribed lower right: Ivan Le Lorraine Albright
- 142.9 × 119.2 cm (56 1/4 × 47 in.)
- Gift of Ivan Albright
- © The Art Institute of Chicago.