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JOHN SINGER SARGENT

American, 1856-1925

Grace Elvina, Marchioness Curzon of Kedleston

1924, pencil on paper
inscribed J.S. 149 lower left
sheet: 10 3/4 x 9 in., sight: 10 1/4 x 8 1/4 in., frame: 19 x 17 1/2 in.

  • Condition: Uniform mat burn around all sides. Hinged at top edges with archival tape; with some older tape residue visible at top corners, verso.
  • Provenance: Provenance: John Singer Sargent, 1924; Emily and Violet Sargent, 1925; Grand Central Art Galleries, New York (possibly by 1928), accompanied by bill of sale from the galleries dated November 18, 1959; Private Collection.

    Literature: This work has been examined by the John Singer Sargent Catalogue Raisonne committee and has been accepted as a genuine work by John Singer Sargent.

    Sargent completed his oil portrait of Grace Elvina, Marchioness Curzon of Kedleston just three months before his death, and his depiction of Grace is imbued with a quiet forcefulness not seen in many of his later portraits. Her half turned head and straight posture contrast with the relaxed ease with which she rests her hand on her lap, grasping her luminous pearls. The strength of Grace's pose is evident in this preparatory drawing, as are her stern gaze and set jaw, all rendered with precise pencil strokes. The sketch also hints at Grace's attire, with the neckline of her gown and the horizontal edge of her camisole well-defined alongside the faint suggestion of the ethereal chiffon enveloping her form, and with a single line of pencil indicating her pearls.

    After Sargent's death in 1925, one third of the materials in his London studio came to the Grand Central Art Galleries in New York, and in 1928, the gallery held an exhibition of several hundred of Sargent's drawings. According to the exhibition catalogue, "Among the drawings left in the studio were found a large number of pencil sketches and tryouts for important pictures and portraits now well-known to the world...it was [Sargent's] habit to place his sitter in various positions, in different lights, making quick pencil sketches and studies so that the best in each individual might be brought out." This work was purchased from the Grand Central Galleries in 1959, and has remained in the same family since that time. It relates closely to another preparatory sketch in the RISD Collection (inscribed JS 148), and of course to the remarkable oil of Grace Elvina, Marchioness Curzon of Kedleston, now in New Hampshire's Currier Museum of Art.

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