Mrs Ralph Curtis
size: 38.0 x 20.0 in. (51 x 97 cm) 
Mrs Ralph Curtis 
(Lisa de Wolfe Colt)
John Singer Sargent -- American painter 
Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio
Oil on canvas
Jpg: Friend of the JSS Gallery / The Athenaeum
From: Friend of the JSS Gallery
There is another painting by Sargent that I did not see on your site.  I'm not sure if it is listed anywhere on the web, but I thought you might like to see it.  It has been on exhibition in the Cleveland Museum of Art since it was acquired in 1998. It is not a well-known piece because it hasn't left the Palazzo Barbaro since it was painted in 1898.
The Curtises lived and owned part of the  Palazzo Barbaro in Venice. Ralph Curtis was, of course, John's close friend (their fathers were cousins). He traveled with John on some of his early trips and was with him during the Madame X showing (1884).

This is a stunning painting of his friend's wife. This possibly was painted in a studio in Venice or it could have been painted in the Palazzo itself because of the obvious curtain backdrop. When Sargent painted at the sitter's house, you generally see the surrounding room and furnishings. It was not his habit to paint fictitious backdrops.

Clearly this harks back to John painting of Madame X. The lone standing figure with exposed shoulders leaning on a round table. Ralph had been very close to John during that whole episode at the Salon and the blow-up with Madame Gautreau and her mother.  It is no accident that we see similarities here between the two paintings. The bond these two friends had was very close, and Ralph must have adored the Madame X painting and wanted the same stunning theme for his wife; or is it that John and Ralph's wife secretly plotted a surprise pose for her husband. I don't know the answer to how, where, and why this painting came about, but I like to believe it was the latter of the two.

In any event, it clearly works, and what we're left with today is a protraite of a very beautiful woman and a personal symbolic reference to their close friendship.


Gondola Days: Isabella Stewart Gardner and the Palazzo Barbaro Circle, 2004

Sargent and Italy, 2002-2003


Created 5/17/1999



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