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An American Portrait Unnamed 
a John Singer Sargent painting? 


I am searching for the identity of this sitter -- if you know please write.

I received an interested e-mail [in 1999]. Graham Dugas (gd ug apparently had this painting and wanted to know its value and how to sell it. I directed him as best I could.

He had very little information and was seeking the identity of the sitter. 

If all this is true, and if it is a Sargent, than this must have been an American portrait. The fact that it was located in Florida tells me that it was probably brought there by an owner whom had retired and moved from the East Coast, maybe Boston, maybe New York, if I were to guess. 

John had made one trip to Florida in 1917 but it was after he had given up portraiture.

The fact that this is a very classical pose might indicate that it was a commissioned portrait and not a friend or family.

From: Graham Dugas
(g du 
Date: Tuesday, June 8, 2004 

Wow, I had no idea that it has been up on your site all this time. I certainly thank you.

Attached is the original MS Word document that bears all the facts I knew at the time I approached the keepers of the catalogue. Thank you for your openness in helping out. . . . I am also interested in the truth, "just the facts mam" as Joe Friday used to say.

 Acknowledged or not, valuable or not, my brother (joint-heir) and I have decided to keep it on the wall and enjoy it. But again I must thank you for your help. You keep better records than I do. I don't have email records from '99 but you remembered me. Know I know why, it has been up on your site all this time.

 Please keep it up there for as long as you can. The attached document fills in on some of the speculation in the text that you have posted with the photo on your site. If I could request more of your kindness, could it be updated to reflect the facts as they are known thus far? Again I know that I
am asking an indulgence but you seem to be very kind. Thank you.


June 23, 1999

Sargent Vetting Committee
Adelson Galleries
The Mark Hotel
25 East 77th Street, Third Fl.
New York, NY   10021

Dear committee members,

Thank you for taking the time to examine our painting that has been attributed to John Singer Sargent. There is much that remains unclear about it at the present. Your aid in this matter is most appreciated. I have assembled what I can in an orderly fashion for your scrutiny. Below is all I know regarding the provenance of the work.

In 1967 my father’s aunt died. The auction house described her in this manner: Mrs. Woll (Celeonor Dugas) was a portrait painter of considerable note, and painted many important people including Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, Samuel Gompers, Samuel Lewisohn, Charles Schwab, and many others. Her late husband Matthew Woll, was Vice President of United Federation of Labor.” [Anecdotal evidence attesting to Celeonor Dugas’ associations included in the large manila envelope. Among the items are letters from Herbert Hoover and other notables.]

There was an estate sale resulting from a disputed will. [Attached as Item 1] This is where my father obtained the painting (and other items). The original flyer from the estate sale is included.[Attached as Item 2]

As you can see the painting was sold as “by an unknown artist”. It was soiled and the signature was discovered during reconditioning. The person who restored the painting had an outstanding reputation and handled works for the Metropolitan Museum including such artists as Renoir. His name was Frank Moratz. There is an anecdotal story about this that I found out when doing research on the web about my great aunt’s artwork. From this site:  I was led to contact Sylvia Buratovich. (602) 488-5277 She remembers well the account of the painting being restored and the attendant discovery of the signature.[Attached as Item 3]

My father, Graham C. Dugas Jr., was in touch with Mr. Richard Ormond in the late 80’s early 90’s. In attempting to find out who the sitter is, my father was led to contact Mr. Ormond. Upon reviewing photographs of the painting, Mr. Ormond directed my father to the General Manager of Warwick Castle.[Letter Attached as Item 4] I have included all the research notes about “Warwick” and related genealogies etc. [Attached as Item 5] Regrettably, this may have proved to be a dead end. But then again perhaps not, the research has not been exhaustive. In his response, the Curator of Warwick Castle returned a nice hand-written letter with photocopies of a painting by J.S.S. of Lady Warwick and her son (1905).[Attached as Item 6] There is not that much of a likeness. Additionally, I would find it hard to believe that someone actually sat twice for J.S.S. However, he certainly grew quite fond of the painting describing the sitter as a “lady of some consequence”. 

Based on certain evidences and research detailed in a letter to the General Manager of Warwick Castle I am now trying to re-trace my father’s efforts to find out who the sitter may be. Perhaps the most interesting trail to follow at this time is contained in a remark contained in the letter to Warwick which reads thus: “I did some research at the New York Public Library and learned that the family did dispose of some family paintings through Knoedler--London--early on this century.” Would the committee know anything about this? Also referred to is/are “the original stretchers”. I take to mean the wood frame that the canvas is stretched upon, correct? In any event, if as my father said “it remains in my [his] possession”, there is a likelihood that I will come across it as I sort through my late father’s estate. This will be of great aid to me.

Well so much for circumstantial matters, I know that ultimately the painting will have to speak for itself. I am grateful to have the opportunity to avail myself of your expertise. If there is anything else that you can think of, please do not hesitate to contact me. Again, I thank you all for your time and consideration in this matter.


Graham C. Dugas III





By:  Natasha Wallace
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Updated 6/18/2004