John Singer Sargent, the son of an American doctor, was born in Florence in 1856. He studied painting in Italy and France and in 1884 caused a sensation at the Paris Salon with his painting of Madame Gautreau. Exhibited as Madame X, people complained that the painting was provocatively erotic.
The scandal persuaded Sargent to move to England and over the next few years established himself as the country’s leading portrait painter. Sargent had no assistants; he handled all the tasks, such as preparing his canvases, varnishing the painting, arranging for photography, shipping, and documentation. He commanded about $5,000 per portrait, or about $130,000 in current dollars. Following are portraits representative of Sargent’s prolific, and much prized, portraiture featurning British subjects.
Lady Agnew of Lochnaw
National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh
In late 1892, Sargent began work on the portrait of Lady Agnew, commissioned by Andrew Noel Agnew, a barrister who had inherited the baronetcy and estates of Lochnaw in Galloway. The sitter was his young wife, Gertrude Vernon (1865-1932).
Hon. Victoria Stanley – 1899
Winifred, Duchess of Portland (Winifred Dallas-Yorke) – 1902
Countess of Warwick and Son (Frances Evelyn ‘Daisy’ Maynard) – 1905
The Countess of Essex – 1906
Theresa (‘Nellie’) Marchioness of Londonderry – 1912
Sibyl Sasson-Countess of Rocksavage (later Marchioness of Cholmondeley) – 1913
Sir Philip Sassoon – 1923 (Sybil’s brother)
Tate Gallery, London
Mrs. George Nathaniel Curzon (Grace Elvina, Marchioness Curzon of Kedleston) – 1925
The Hon. Lilian Maud Glen Coats, later Duchess of Wellington
For a complete online catalogue of the works of John Singer Sargent, click here