The Artist's Wife (Périe, 1849–1887) Reading, 1883. Albert Bartholomé. Pastel and charcoal on wove paper, laid down on blue wove paper, laid down on stretched canvas. Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Wolfe Fund, 1990.
This composition, with its inventive cropping and velvety passages of pastel, reflects the influence of Degas, who befriended Bartholomé in the early 1880s. The sitter is the artist’s wife, Périe, known to be a "beautiful woman of delicate health, cultivated, and of supreme distinction." Upon her death in 1887 a grief-stricken Bartholomé abandoned painting and pastel. With Degas’s encouragement, he turned to sculpture; the monument he made for Perie's tomb marked the beginning of an accomplished career as a sculptor, working in metal and stone.