This drawing is one of several depictions of a woman holding a child and may portray Sally Avery, the artist Milton Avery’s wife, and their daughter March, who was born October 12, 1932. Rothko’s subjects resemble the depictions of Sally, who had short dark hair, and March in drawings, paintings, and prints by Avery from around 1932/1933 (figs. 1, 2). If this is indeed March, then to judge from her apparent age, Rothko’s drawing likely dates from early 1933. He reprised this composition in several variants in watercolor (see Related Works on Paper).
1. Milton Avery, Mother and Child, 1932, gouache on black paper, Brooklyn Museum, Bequest of Ivor Green and Augusta Green, 1992.271.8.
2. Milton Avery, Mother and Child, 1933, dry point in black on laid paper, National Gallery of Art, Gift of the Avery Family, in Honor of the 50th Anniversary of the National Gallery of Art, 1991.233.2.
Mark Rothko: Works on Paper will ultimately document approximately 2,600 works from public and private collections worldwide. Cataloging is ongoing, and works and information will be added to the site during the coming years.