John Singer Sargent's Cashmere  (Frontpage)  (What's New)  (Thumbnails)  (Refer This Site)
John Singer Sargent -- American painter  
Bill Gates collection 
27 1/2 42 1/2 in. 
Jpg: timothy-sammons

The painting is of Sargent's neice, Reine Ormond, in an exotic cashmere shawl in seven different poses. Reine Ormond would have been about 11 years old.  

Copyright 1999 Natasha Wallace all rights reserved 


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 Reine Violet. 

I asked Bert where he got his Info 

From: Bert  

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)
From Smithsonian Magazine 
    "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.  

From: Natasha   

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. 

-- Nat 

From: Wonsug Jung   

I really enjoyed you and Bert's discussion about the girl in Cashmere, and I was deeply impressed by his exhaustive references. 

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 married Robert 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? 

From: Natasha      

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. 

From: Wonsug Jung   

Hi, Natasha 

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 name." 
-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. 

From: Natasha      

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. 


By:  Natasha Wallace
Copyright 1998-2003 all rights reserved
Created 1999
Updated 10/03/2003


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