John Singer Sargent's  Portrait of Benjamin Kissam
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 Portrait of Benjamin Kissam
Private Collection
Oil on canvas
31 1/2 x 25 1/2 in.
 Jpg: Barridoff Galleries

From: Barridoff Galleries

Estimate: $40000/60000

This portrait, which was shown at the Sargent Loan Exhibition at Copley Hall in Boston 1899 will be included in the forthcoming Volume II of the catalogue raisonné by Richard Ormond and Elaine Kilmurray in collaboration with Warren Adelson and Elizabeth Oustinoff. It has descended in the family of the sitter and has never before been offered for sale publicly. According to the entry in regard to the portrait of Mrs. Benjamin Kissam in Volume I of the catalogue raisonné, Sargent painted several members of the the sitter's immediate and extended family including "Mr. Kissam's wife, Marie-Louise, wife of W. H. Vanderbilt (no. 211), the latter's daughter, Mrs. E. F. Shephard and her daughter Alice (no. 209), George Vanderbilt himself (Biltmore House) and several other Vanderbilt connections."

In 1929, the sitter's son-in-law, Arthur Train, wrote an article for the Atlantic Monthly titled "The Portrait That Sargent Forgot" in which he describes the painting with great insight and accuracy as follows:

"It is a brilliant full-face portrait of a slight, pink and white old gentleman with soft white hair and beard and flowing white moustache. He wears a a dark-colored business suit that merges into a background of indefinite bronze-green. An impression of punctilious neatness is conveyed by the turn-down collar, the soft bowtie, the pearl stud, and the white handkerchief which protrudes from the pcoket of the sack coat. The face is highly intelligent, the expression at once whimsical, shrewd, immensely tolerant, but the slanting blue eyes are a little sad and world-weary...One might say, 'An amiable, perspicacious old gentleman, who knows a thing or two, has had some hard knocks and survived them, but whose innate sense of values is too sound to take his own success too highly. A country lad, perhaps, grown old in city harness, who would like to retire to the farm and go fishing - sometime.'"

  • Notes:

  • The painting had been offered for sale at the Barridoff Galleries which they put an estimated value between $40,000 and $60,000. As of October of 2001, the page had been deleted which I assume meant the painting had been sold.

    By:  Natasha Wallace
    Copyright 1998-2001 all rights reversed
    Created 10/9/2001