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John Singer Sargent

Anthony Asquith


Anthony Asquith ?
Elinor M. Barnard - English watercolorist
ca. 1923
jpg: local

From: Joan Jackson

Joan Jackson @ JSS Gallery.org
Fri, 20 Aug 2004

This I believe to be Anthony Asquith.

The portrait is of a young man, I would say about 20-23. Anthony was known for his shock of curly hair and as Paul Darby says "fought with it his whole life." Also, the nose -- his mother called him Puffin because of it.

Note the Japanese drawing in the background -- Elinor put oriental pieces in a lot of her backgrounds.

There is no date on the photograph that I can observe. Elinor came to America last time that I can document in 1914, but that is not to say that she did not go back to England for a visit. Also, Anthony came to America after Oxford and went out to Hollywood to learn the movie trade. He most likely visited the family friend, Elinor, in New York when he docked in New York. I suspect the portrait was done ca. 1923.

Again, I am confident that this is Anthony Asquith, but I will leave it up to you to decide whether or not to put it on.


Sat, 21 Aug 2004

I found that Anthony's mother, Margo Tennant Asquith, came to the US on a lecture tour in 1921-2 ( See Literary Papers of Margot Asquith at the Bodleian Library, Oxford). It is possible that Anthony accompanied her and he visited with his friend Elinor before going (by train)? out to California. He would have been 20 then which appears to be about the right age for the subject in the portrait.

By that time Elizabeth was married and in Washington, DC. I have a copy of a letter written by Elinor in 1922, to another client, stating that she was in Washington painting the 21 month old Bibesco baby girl (that would be Priscilla Bibesco Hodgson-I am trying to find that portrait).

The news article concerning Elinor's death stated that she had painted the children of H.H. Asquith. I assumed that the portraits were done at the same time of young children. Well, this shows that they were not.

Apparently Paul Darby did not take a photo of Singer's drawing of Anthony when he was in Paris this May. I sent him a copy of the photo to examine and he could not identify it 100% as being Anthony.

It ceases to amaze me that so many little pieces of information coming from divergent sources eventually come together with the story. I suppose I am a "sleuthhound." Of course, the computer age has made this all possible.

Tell me what you think!


Paul Darby
(darby and joan1@yahoo.com)
Date: Tue, 24 Aug 2004

I am almost certain that Anthony Asquith did not travel with his mother to America on her 1920 lecture tour. She writes in great detail about the trip in "My Impressions of America" (Doran, 1922). I took a quick look through the book and in chapter three she writes about the John Sargent frescos in the Boston Museum - "It has a majesty of design, glory of drawing, and originality of conception unequalled by anything in Europe". She writes of the work for 1 1/2 pages - quite the longest time in any of her books where she isn't writing about herself (of Margot's Autobiography, Dorothy Parker famously wrote - "Two volumes, suitable for throwing").

On the other hand I know that Anthony did visit Hollywood about this time (as did his sister Elizabeth). He must have travelled over on his own during the school holidays. I bet you could find a time-line on this visit in the biography of Anthony Asquith ("Puffin Asquith", 1973). Regards, Paul

Special thanks to Joan Powell Jackson, of San Antonio, Texas. but originally from  New Orleans, for being a friend of the JSS Gallery, and for sending the photo of this painting along with information 



By: Natasha Wallace
Copyright 1998-2004 all rights reserved
Created 8/23/2004
Updated  09/1/2004