Charles Demuth painted abstract portraits of famous subjects who were either gay or sexually ambiguous, including Gertrude Stein, Georgia O'Keeffe, and Marsden Hartley. His great Figure 5 in Gold, a tribute to poet William Carlos Williams, was also in this vein. Abstraction allowed the simultaneous expression and concealment of his subjects' character and personal life; they could "hide in plain sight" from those who could not read the codes. Demuth's study for a never-finished portrait of his friend and fellow artist Marsden Hartley (1877-1943) incorporates both Hartley's signature gardenia boutonniere and erotically charged, phallic still-lifes. Demuth marks the cane at the lower left with the initials "C.D.," suggesting a connection between the two men.