Photo: Princeton American Wing

Elizabeth Allen Marquand  
(Mrs. G. Marquand) 
John Singer Sargent -- American painter  
The Art Museum, Princeton University  
Princeton, New Jersey 
 Oil on canvas 
168.9 x 106.7 cm  (66 1/2 x 42 in ) 
Jpg: Net (unknown)

Henry G. Marquand was a banker who made his money financing railroads for the Vanderbilts and others. Both his wife and he were active in the arts, avid collectors and possessed some of the finest Van Dycks in the United States, an incredible array of Roman bronzes, and a superb collection of Chinese porcelains.  

In 1884, the Marquands had commissioned Richard Morris Hunt to design their home at the northwest corner of Madison Avenue and 68th Street in New York. The  mansion was a French Renaissance creation derivative of the châteaus of the sixteenth century. Huge, the house evoked his wealth and status. To fill this home, they actively collected art and commissioned some of the best of American artists. A Sargent portrait would be  an obvious trophy. 

This portrait is the first American commission for Sargent within the States. It was a commission he really didn't want, and he wasn't all that excited about traveling to the America to do it  -- but he did, and as a result the trip would completely change his career and bring him the success that had been cut short in Paris and had been eluding him in London. America, he found, was starving for artists that had a European flare, and Sargent certainly fit that mold.  

The Marquands as a family were interesting people. It seems they had their hands in just about everything at the time. Henry G. Marquand became the second president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and was painted by Sargent in 1897. He served as one of 400 on the Executive Committee to raise $125,000 for the cost of the pedestal of the  Statue of Liberty. Their son, Allan Marquand (1853-1924) became a professor of Art and Archaeology and he, along with Charles Eliot Norton of Harvard, were to first to introduce the serious study of art into the curriculum of the American colleges.  



By:  Natasha Wallace
Copyright 1998-2005 all rights reserved
Created 12/27/2000