See Bright Paintings by a New York Socialite From the Jazz Age

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Henry McBride, 1922, by Florine Stettheimer. Photo: Gift of Ettie Stettheimer; Smith College Museum of Art. Image provided by Smith College Museum of Art

A new exhibition at the Jewish Museum celebrates the life and work of artist Florine Stettheimer (1871–1944), a New York City socialite of the Jazz Age. Titled “Florine Stettheimer: Painting Poetry,” the show is the largest-ever retrospective of Stettheimer’s work with over 50 of her sculptures, paintings, drawings, and poetry.

Born into a rich Jewish family in New York, Stettheimer painted with a bright palette, exposed early on to post-impressionist works by the likes of Vincent Van Gogh during her family’s frequent travels to Europe. Because she was never under the pressure to make art for a profit, she painted what pleased her — her friends and family, scenes from her own life, and abstract figments of her imagination.

In her 20s, she moved with her family to Europe and found inspiration in symbolist artists and the dancers of the Parisian ballet company Ballets Russes. After watching a performance, she created her own ballet titled Orphée of the Quat-z-arts, based on an annual costume parade of Parisian students called the Bal des Quat’z’Arts. Stettheimer’s ballet — a story of separation and reunion — was never performed onstage. The Jewish Museum displays many of her set and costume designs in the exhibition.

After writing and painting for several years, Stettheimer returned to Manhattan in her 40s, after World War I, and entertained an elite circle of modernist artists at her family’s salons, including Georgia O’Keeffe and Marcel Duchamp. She and Duchamp were especially close and painted portraits of each other — also on display at the museum.

Click ahead to see paintings from the show, on view until September 24.

Photo: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Gift of Mrs. R. Kirk Askew Jr. in memory of R. Kirk Askew Jr./none

Birthday Bouquet (Flowers with Snake), 1932.

Photo: John Wronn/The Museum of Modern Art; New York; Gift of Miss Ettie Stettheimer

Mars: Adolph Bolm, 1912.

Costume design for artist’s ballet Orphée of the Quat-z-arts.

Photo: Gift of Ettie Stettheimer; Smith College Museum of Art. Image provided by Smith College Museum of Art

Henry McBride, 1922.

Photo: Thomas Griesel/The Museum of Modern Art; New York; Gift of Miss Ettie Stettheimer/Digital Image © 2014 MoMA, N.Y.

Georgette, 1912.

Costume design for artist’s ballet Orphée of the Quat-z-arts.

Photo: Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts. Gift of the Estate of Ettie and Florine Stettheimer. Image provided by Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts. Photograph by David Stansbury/none

Portrait of Marcel Duchamp, 1923-1926.

Photo: Art Properties; Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library; Columbia University. Gift of the Estate of Ettie Stettheimer; 1967/none

A Model (Nude Self-Portrait), 1915.

Photo: Museum of Fine Arts; Boston; Gift of Miss Ettie Stettheimer/Photography © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. All Rights Reserved.

Lake Placid, 1919.

Photo: Art Properties; Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library; Columbia University. Gift of the Estate of Ettie Stettheimer; 1967/none

Portrait of My Sister, Ettie Stettheimer, 1923.

Photo: The Museum of Modern Art; New York; Gift of Miss Ettie Stettheimer/Image provided by The Museum of Modern Art / SCALA / Art Resource, New York

Procession: Zizim of Persia, Agnes of Bourganeuf, the Unicorn, and Pierre d’Aubusson, 1912.

Costume design for artist’s ballet Orphée of the Quat-z-arts.

Photo: Peter A. Juley & Son; c. 1917-20. Image provided by Peter A. Juley & Son Collection; Photograph Archives; Smithsonian American Art Museum/Peter A. Juley & Son Collection,

Florine Stettheimer.

Bright Paintings by a New York Socialite From the Jazz Age