Chorus Captain Artist: Walt Kuhn (American, 1877–1949)


American Paintings and Sculpture

Not on view

Walt Kuhn's portrait of a showgirl offers psychological insight into the backstage life of the performer, evoking the tension between the sitter's private mood and her public role. The artist, who staged and directed vaudeville shows, often portrayed individuals he knew personally. Here, Kuhn uses direct paint application, a frontal viewpoint, and flattened forms on a dark background to bring the young woman forward. Adorned with gaudy makeup and voluminous ostrich feathers, this showgirl seems at once unselfconscious and weary, perhaps resigned to being the object of attention. Accustomed to an entertainer’s life though she may be, the woman’s despondent expression betrays her vulnerability.


Oil on canvas


40 × 30 in. (101.6 × 76.2 cm)

Credit Line

Katharine Ordway Fund

Accession Number



20th century


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.



Estate of the artist; Kennedy Galleries, Inc., New York; Thyssen-Bornemisza Collection, Lugano, Switzerland, 1979; Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg, New York, Dec. 3, 2002; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., 2003
  • Art for Yale: Collecting for a New Century, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2007), 108, pls. 95, 368–69
  • "Acquisitions 2003," Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2004), 138, ill
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

figures (representations), human figures (visual works), portraits


signed and dated "WALT KUHN 1935"

Technical metadata and APIs


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