|Subject: Who was
the lady in Cashmere?
From: Natasha Wallace
In compairing my information on Cashmere
with Bert's I showed a date of 1905 for the painting and the identity of
the woman as Rose - Marie. Bert showed a date of 1908 and the woman being
I asked Bert where he got his Info
Who was the lovely lass in Cashmere?
I've no idea anymore. Read on.
All the sources that I've seen indicate
that Cashmere was painted in 1908.
Sargent had three nieces -
1 - Marguerite 1892-? (I don't know
what the "?" indicates. Perhaps she died at childbirth?)
2 - Rose Marie - 1893 - 1918
3 - Reine Violet - 1897 - 1971 (This
would make her Rose-Marie's younger sister)
"The model for all seven figures
was the artist's niece Reine Ormond. "
From the Retrospective Catalogue
"......all seven figures were modelled
by the artists' youngest niece Reine Ormond, then aged eleven"
From "John Singer Sargent - His
Portrait" by Stanly OlsonOn page 255
"Three days later he received a
telegram on Good Friday informing him of the death of his niece, Madame
Rose Marie Michel, killed in the German bombardment of the church of St
Gervais..............Sargent had painted her in The Cashmere Shawl, The
Brook, The Black Pool, The Pink Dress, and several times in one picture,
Cashmere. Like her mother, he found her a wonderful model, and tradition
has it she was his favourite"
In Sargent: Paintings-
Drawings- Watercolours by Richard Ormond, (I
believe this is the Richard Ormond who is the great-nephew of JSS) on page
255 in the "Notes to the Plates"
"Painted like plate 104 (The Black
Brook) at Purtud in the Val d' Aosta. All seven figures were modelled by
the artist's nieces, Rose Marie Ormond (later Mme Michel) and Reine Ormond
(now Mrs Pitman)"
Of course this means I'll be going
to the library to look at books with substandard images to see if any if
their text refers to this.
I wouldn’t dig too much, I think
from what you’ve got thus far pretty much answers it.
If the date of the painting is in
fact 1908, and I will assume it is, than it HAS to be Reine Violet
(1897 - 1971) and not Rose Marie (1893 - 1918). (Again I seem to have a
slightly different date of birth for Rose Marie and I’m looking for my
source on that), but if we take your dates, Rose Marie would have been
15 years old and Reine Violet would have been 11 years old.
Clearly Cashmere is a painting of
an 11 year old and not a 15 year old (or is it?), so it has to be Reine
Violet, assuming all these dates are correct.
The Stanly Olson book of 1986 is
almost a direct quote from the Evan Charteris' book which was first published
in 1927 – and is the source of MY identity of the person:
“On March 29, 1918, Sargent's niece
Rose Marie, daughter of Mrs. Ormaond and widow of Robert Andre' Michel
who had fallen while fighting on October 13, 1914 was killed in Paris.
She was attending a Good Friday service in the church of St. Gervais when
a German shell struck the building, killing seventy people, among
whom was Madame Michel. She was a person of singular loveliness and charm,
and had figured in Sargent's works, notably in Chashmere, The Pink
Dress and the Brook .. .. She had traveled with him on some of his
sketching tours, and her youth and high spirits and the beauty of her character
had won his devotion.
Her death made a deep impression on him.” (Charteris, P210)
The Retrospective Catalogue was
put together with the help of Richard Ormond, So the ambiguity in
Richard Ormond’s 1970 book (Sargent: Paintings- Drawings- Watercolours)
appears to be settled, at least in Ormond’s mind, by 1998.
I really enjoyed you and Bert's discussion
about the girl in Cashmere, and I was deeply impressed by his exhaustive
I remember the CD rom guide also
said it was Reine, though I'm not sure if the voice was Mr.Ormond's.
By the way, you can find her photos
in 'Sargent abroad', and it provides brief information on his traveling
companions. According to this section written by Elaine Kilmurray, Rose-Marie
Andre-Michel in 1913, but he was killed in action the following year.
She was a nurse during the war, and when she was killed she was listening
to a concert, and it also says the year Marguerite died is 1951.
It also has by far the best reproductions
of Sargent's paintings, though they are mainly landscapes and figure paintings
and two or three plates
are mildly ruined from scaratches and dusts on their slide film.
Can I ask you a question? Is Stanly
Olson's book mainly a direct quote from the Evan Charteris'
book, I mean in general? Can you send
me some brief description about two books, please?
I added the Charteris' quote above
and I haven't read the Olson's book. I think it would be a great idea to
give very short synopsis of each of the books we read and what would be
most helpful is to give each books strength and weakness. When I have time
I'll do mine.
While reading Sargent Abroad, I found
a paragraph discussing the girl in Cashmere.
The delicate features are those
of the artist's niece Reine, then eleven, who confirmed me in later life
that she had been the model for the picture. Though it is her face that
appears five times, she received some help from other members of the party
in modeling the costumes. "I also posed for the drapery(not the heads)
of several figures in Cashmere," wrote Dorothy Barnard to David McKibbin
in 1947. She went on to say that the heads had been painted from Rose-Marie
but corrected this in a postscript: "I believe that in the procession of
Persian Shawls Reine Ormond is the figure. Rose-Marie was the 2nd girl's
-Sargent Abroad by Richard Ormond et
al., page 93
Now I can see why Charteris thaught
Rose-Marie had been the model. Though the letter was written in 1947 (when
she was 69), she might have been also confused earlier when she talked
about it with Charteris.
This would make sense and would explain
the confusion of the identity of the model. You kind of wonder what was
going through Sargent's mind when he did this. Was it simply just a series
of studies of a woman in a shawl in various posses done on the same canvas,
or did he have this composition in mind when he began? In any event, I
find it rather striking.