David Jagger (English, 1891-1958) – The Young Golfer (Portrait of Joyce Rigby), 1939 (Oil on canvas) – – Throughout the 1930s Jagger’s austere and highly finished portraits were in great demanded by London’s elite, for which there was often a waiting list. Here he depicts, with her club in hand, Joyce Rigby (1913-1979), a keen golfer who played to Dorset county standard with a handicap of 5.
Edouard Manet (French, 1832-1883) – Berthe Morisot With a Bouquet of Violets, 1872 (Oil on canvas. Musée d’Orsay) – – Manet began to widen his color palette after being influenced by the Impressionists’ pastel landscapes, but he never totally abandoned his affinity for black, illustrated here in his portrait of his close friend, the Impressionist Berthe Morisot. In a way unlike that of his other paintings, which are largely painted in uniform light, Manet chose to illuminate only half of Morisot’s face here, creating a dramatic interplay of light and shadow. She holds a bouquet of violets that blend into the dark fold of her dress. Manet’s circle considered the work a masterpiece. (NegyArt Gallery)
Jacques-Émile Blanche (French, 1861-1942) – Desirée Manfred (The Summer Girl), 1904 (Oil on canvas) – – Dated by Jane Roberts to 1904, this painting portrays one of Blanche’s favorite models in informal pose, seated on the arm of a delicate fauteuil. When reproduced in the Illustrated London News in 1905 it was given the title “The Summer Girl.” The subject, a beautiful young woman named Desirée Manfred, was one of Blanche’s favorite models, whom he painted no less than thirteen times. She is something of a mysterious figure, Desirée Manfred almost certainly not being her real name, but chosen because of some romantic Byronic connection of her own (or her mother’s) invention… (NegyArt Gallery)
Federico Beltrán Massés (Spanish, 1885-1949) – Portrait of a Woman in Black (Oil on canvas) – – The immediate success of Beltran Masses’ 1929 exhibition in London at the New Burlington Galleries owed much to the art historian and critic for The Observer and Daily Mail, Paul George Konody, who wrote the introduction to the exhibition catalogue, and reviewed it for the Daily Mail. Despite his evident admiration for the artist, Konody avoided being slavish in his praise. While he complimented the artist on his romantic sensibility and his brilliant use of colour, he was critical of the occasional contradictions in his drawing.
William Merritt Chase (American, 1849-1916) – Girl in a Japanese Costume, c.1890 (Oil on canvas. Brooklyn Museum) – – With an abundance of Asian textiles and foreign costumes in his studio, Chase was poised to respond to the growing popularity of Japanese costume subjects among his American and foreign peers. By the late 1880s, he began to portray selected models, often female members of his family, robed in beautifully patterned kimonos. Girl in a Japanese Costume is an example of such a work and, like the majority of his “kimono paintings,” depicts a young woman in a studio setting gazing directly at the artist, suggesting the closeness of this artist-model relationship. (Szigetingy Art Gallery)
Herbert James Gunn (Scottish, 1893-1964) – Pauline in Paris, 1936 (Oil on canvas) – – Pauline in Paris is at her most radiant, with her arresting red lipstick and her glamorous evening gown revealing two bare shoulders. There is so much emphasis on Pauline and the beautiful contrast of her black dress with her ivory skin, that the landscape in the background goes mostly unnoticed. But there’s the Seine and the Pont de la Tournelle, just outside the couple’s apartment in Paris.
Sir John Everett Millais (English, 1829-1896) – Mariana, 1851 (Oil paint on mahogany. Tate) – – Mariana is a character from Shakespeare’s play Measure for Measure. Her fiancé Angelo leaves after her family’s money is lost in a shipwreck. Still in love with him, she hopes they will be reunited. Here Millais shows Mariana pausing to stretch her back after working at some embroidery. Autumn leaves scattered on the ground suggest the passage of time. The painting was originally exhibited with lines from Alfred Tennyson’s poem ‘Mariana’: “She only said, ‘My life is dreary – He cometh not!’ she said; She said, ‘I am aweary, aweary – I would that I were dead!’”
John Singer Sargent (American, 1856-1925) – Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon), 1923 (Charcoal. Royal Collection Trust) – – Sargent, who settled in London in 1886, was renowned for his dazzling paintings of society beauties, artists, writers and statesmen. Late in his life, when he had virtually given up painting portraits, he nonetheless produced a large number of charcoal portrait drawings. Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon and the Duke of York both sat for Sargent shortly before their marriage, which took place in April 1923. Sargent is said to have described Lady Elizabeth as ‘the only completely unselfconscious sitter I have ever had.’
Sir John Lavery (Irish, 1856-1941) – The Green Sofa, c.1903 (Oil on canvas) – – More than his full-length portraits, The Green Sofa reveals Lavery’s long and deep indebtedness to James McNeill Whistler. Colour harmony was of course, Whistler’s forte, but in this case, the master’s influence touches the entire mise-en-scène – in the placing of the sofa parallel to the picture plane, the framed print that divides the upper edge of the picture and the ‘Japanese’ insertion of a blossoming orchid on the extreme left. The model is Mary Auras; Mary’s slumber compliments the languor of Whistler’s Symphony in White no III.
Alessandro Milesi (Italian, 1856-1945) – Portrait of Virginia Oldoini, Contessa di Castiglione, 1894 (Oil on board) – – Born into a noble Tuscan family, Virginia Oldoini married Francesco Verasis, Conte di Castiglione, at the age of 17, with whom she had a son, Giorgio. Known as La Contessa, she was famous for her great beauty, extravagant lifestyle and flamboyant dress. Princess Mettrich, wife of the Austrian ambassador to France, described La Contessa as having ‘wonderful hair, the waist of a nymph, and the complexion the colour of pink marble! In a word, Venus descended from Olympus.’ However, it was her affair with Emperor Napoleon III that catapulted her to notoriety in 1856, when she moved to Paris.