La Madrilenita is a portrait painting by Robert Henri from 1910, held currently in a private collection. Henri was a leading figure of the Ashcan School of American realism and an organizer of “The Eight” group of artists. The sitter for La Madrilenita is a young dancer named Josefa Cruz from Madrid, who had all the attributes that would appeal to Henri in his quest for capturing personal responses in his portraits.
Henri dedicated his career to capturing the unique qualities of “his people” in his portraits, and La Madrilenita is no exception. The painting exemplifies American realism, which he favored over pretty, sentimental painting styles. He aimed to convey vitality and humanity through his portrayals, which he did with great skill in La Madrilenita.
La Madrilenita would be considered an example of both portrait painting and genre artwork due to its depiction of a specific individual at leisure while also representing a broader cultural insight about dance culture in Madrid during this time period. Processing these visual elements adds value beyond what meets the eye before this background context has been sifted through with discerning eyes.