(Frances Frew Wade)
-- American painter
Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, KC
Oil on canvas
167.6 x 137.8 cm (66 x 54 1/4 in.)
Gift of the Enid and Crosby Kemper Foundation)
From the Neson
Cecil Wade was among the first significant commissions that Sargent
received after his move to London. The painting forms a fascinating
pendant to Madame X. Both paintings stress the hourglass silhouette of
the female figure and the dramatic and elegant profile of the head.
Madame X, however, seems corrupt and jaded, whereas Mrs. Wade appears
prim and impeccably correct, and conveys a self-assurance remarkable
for a young woman of 23. According to a descendant of the sitter, Mrs.
Wade "found the young artist very shy and difficult to talk to during
the sittings. But then she was also very shy and reserved."
In the 1880s Sargent's free brushwork was still considered "audacious"
and "eccentric" in England, but his virtuosity commanded attention.
"The painting is of a most dashing sort," a critic for the Art Journal
noted in 1887 of Mrs. Cecil Wade. "The wonderful rendering of the dress
and the background cannot fail to evoke admiration."