Kenneth Hayes Miller was an influential teacher to some of the most important American artists of the twentieth-century. Their art was diverse in style and often incorporated many modern techniques; however, Miller’s own art remained unaffected by these modern tendencies, instead looking back to the Renaissance as reference point.
Miller was a proponent of urban genre painting in his mature period. The Shoppers is a lively scene of women shopping on Fourteenth Street in New York, as Miller tended to paint the area around his studio in Union Square. The painting depicts two elegantly dressed women in extreme close-up as if we had just encountered them directly on the street. Miller’s subjects were modern, but his style and time-consuming technique, using under-painting and glazes, were the opposite of those favored by Robert Henri’s circle. Like Leonardo da Vinci and Titian, Miller emphasized a classic solidity through volume and weight, writing later in life, “I touch contemporary life in themes relating to shopping, but what has absorbed me has always been simply the body.”