Florine Stettheimer, along with her two sisters and their mother, presided over one of Manhattan's premier intellectual salons during the 1910s and 1920s, hosting such famous guests as Marcel Duchamp, Alfred Stieglitz, and Carl Van Vechten. Florine Stettheimer produced many portraits of her friends and family, depicting the social interactions of the American avant-garde at picnics and cocktail parties. Painted in her typical jewellike palette of bright reds, oranges, yellows, greens, and pinks, Spring Sale at Bendel's offers a humorous glimpse of the chaotic world of high fashion at bargain prices, wittily portraying the indecorous behavior of Stettheimer's own upper class. The opulent red draperies part to reveal an inner sanctum of privilege and luxury where members of New York's elite leap across tables to snatch up sumptuous fabrics, twisting and preening to assess the glamorous effects of the merchandise. The frenzy of attenuated women scattered across the canvas is tempered by the figure of the sales manager at the foot of the grand staircase, ringleader of this retail circus. In a final gesture of amusing extravagance, Stettheimer signed the work by painting her initials on the monogrammed sweater of the Pekingese dog politely waiting in the corner.
Emily Hage, from Masterpieces from the Philadelphia Museum of Art: Impressionism and Modern Art (2007), p. 202.