Wednesday, October 31, 2018

"The Long Game"

9 x 12"
oil on panel

My new painting features a couple viewing two glamorous portraits in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.  

On the right, quite possibly, is the most perfect painting John Singer Sargent ever produced (my humble opinion of course).  Mrs. Hammersley was the wife of a banker and known fashionista elegantly posed on a French sofa with her stunning, red silk-velvet dress taking your eyes down to the bottom left corner.  The edges of the fabric shimmer in lavender and rich reds.  Her netted, sparking collar is the sweet spot - tiny daubs of gold and white dance over it, making you want to touch it.  Mrs. Hammersley was included in an exhibit in London in 1893, ten years after Sargent's scandalous Madame X nearly ruined his reputation as a portrait painter.  Mrs. Hammersley received raving reviews and essentially restored the artist's career as a painter of the wealthy.  After Mrs. Hammersley's death, her husband kept the portrait until he was forced to sell it because of financial difficulties - a common ending to the many once-wealthy clients of Sargent.

On the couple's left is Mr. and Mrs. Anson Phelps Stokes by Cecilia Beaux, also an American painter.  The couple was painted in an unconventional way with the wife more prominent in the foreground and her husband behind her.  Anson Stokes was an extremely wealthy man - a merchant, real estate developer, a banker, a silver mining tycoon, a warship designer and avid yachtsman (he owned 4 yachts), and a house on Madison Avenue in New York City. The couple left the city and moved to Staten Island when (gasp!) non-millionaires moved in.  His wife, Helen Louisa Phelps, yes Phelps, were both related, descendants from George Phelps, who came to America in the early 1600's.  They had nine children, the oldest wrote for the New York Times and died in 1970.  

When Anson died in 1913, it was reported he was worth around $620 million dollars.  After his estate was settled, it was determined he was actually worth about $19 million.

Please click here for a larger view.

~ Happy Halloween

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