The Convalescent, 1904
Willard Metcalf (American, 1858-1925)
Oil on canvas
Gift of Mrs. Louis Seelbach 1928.4
An Troubled Love Affair
In 1899, Metcalf fell in love with Marguerite Haile, a stage performer from New Orleans who was twenty years his junior. Theirs was a troubled, unstable relationship—with alcohol fueling their unhappiness. In 1903, the year before this canvas was painted, Marguerite attempted suicide. A guiltridden Metcalf, who was famously noncommittal, proposed to Marguerite. Three years later, in a decision that was probably for the best, Marguerite eloped with Robert Nisbet, Metcalf’s studio
assistant. Marguerite and Robert enjoyed a lifelong marriage. Metcalf soon wed Henriette McCrea, who was thirty years his junior.