Elmer Novotny

(Cleveland, Ohio, 1909 - 1997, Walnut Creek, California)

Portrait of a Pianist


Oil on canvas

42 1/2 x 38 3/4 in. (108 x 98.4 cm)

Collection of the Akron Art Museum

Gift of Tim Hogarty


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In keeping with Novotny’s sympathy for working people, this portrait of an elegant and elegantly dressed woman surrounded by fine possessions depicts not an aristocrat, but a working pianist. The image suggests that its subject’s skill derives not only from the practice and performances involved in her vocation, which are entirely left out of the picture, but also from her environment (filled with art, including a bust that doubles as Novotny’s portrait of her husband) and her countenance (calm, but also thoughtful and resolved). At the same time, her pose allows Novotny to highlight her hands, each with fingers splayed apart and appearing long, poised, and dexterous.

Oil painting