Portrait of Caspar Goodrich
John Singer Sargent -- American painter 
Private collection
Oil on canvas
66.3 x 48.6 cm (26 1/8 x 19 1/8 in.)
inscribed 'To Mrs. Goodrich' (upper left) and signed 'John S. Sargent' (upper right)
 Jpg: Christies.com

From: Christie's 

While all of Newport angled for a meeting with the great European-bred artist, Sargent resided comfortably with his old friends, Admiral and Mrs. Caspar Goodrich, parents of the young sitter. Charles Merrill Mount describes Sargent's arrival in the United States: "He arrived at Torpedo Station huge and dominant, smiling and eager. It was years since he had seen the Goodriches, and since those peaceful days at Florence [Mrs. Goodrich] had borne a son, doubtless one day to enter the Navy, and a daughter, both of whom he would meet. It was pleasant to find friends in a strange place: Admiral Goodrich, who still spoke of the sea and ships as Dr. Sargent had. . . ." (John Singer Sargent, p. 106) Inscribed to the sitter's mother, it is presumed that Sargent's portrait of Caspar Goodrich was not a commissioned work, but a token of gratitude for the Goodrich's hospitality during the artist's stay. 

Caspar Goodrich has enjoyed a long history of critical acclaim. In January 1888, shortly after it was painted, Caspar Goodrich was exhibited at Boston's St. Botolph Club along with some of Sargent's most celebrated pictures, including El Jaleo (Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, Massachusetts) and The Daughters of Edward D. Boit (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts). The show galvanized his already strong support by his American audience. Royal Cortissoz compared Caspar Goodrich favorably with some of Sargent's most celebrated pictures: "This likeness of a little boy in a sailor's suit is a charming interpretation of boyish character .... [in which] he has treated adolescence with the most searching understanding." (as quoted in W.H. Downes, John S. Sargent, His Life and Work, Boston, Massachusetts, 1925, p. 150) 

The six year old Caspar Goodrich would have been an irresistible subject for Sargent. A beautiful young boy with a peachy complexion and dark eyes, Sargent painted him wearing a sailor suit, the most fashionable costume for a young boy throughout the nineteenth century. Capturing the boy with arms crossed, gazing directly at the viewer, Sargent conveys the impression of both mischief and good manners. Almost in spite of himself, a smile appears to be emanating from beneath the surface of the headstrong subject. Unlike their adult counterparts, Sargent's young sitters were unselfconscious and provided the artist with subject matter from which he derived some of his best work - enduring portraits that convey much more than the physical attributes of the subject. 


Admiral and Mrs. Caspar F. Goodrich, Newport, Rhode Island, parents of the sitter. 
Eleanor Goodrich Campbell Davis, New York, daughter of the above and sister of the sitter, by 1925. 
By descent in the family to Eleanor Brennan Jones, niece of the above.  

'The Society of American Artists' Exhibition,' Art Amateur, June 1890, p. 3 
'American and European Art Notes,' Art Interchange, 24 May 1890, p. 176 
'Society of American Artists,' New York Times, 28 April 1890, p. 4 L. Mechlin, 'The Sargent Exhibition: Grand Central Art Galleries, New York,' American Magazine of Art, April 1924, p. 185 
W.H. Downes, John S. Sargent: His Life and Work, Boston, Massachusetts, 1925 (rev. ed. London, England, 1926), pp. 149-150 
E. Charteris, John Sargent, London, England, 1927, p. 260 
C.M. Mount, John Singer Sargent: A Biography, New York, 1955, no. 8711, p. 431 (1957 ed., no. 8511, p. 340; 1969 ed., no. 8511, p. 440) 
D. McKibbin, Sargent's Boston, with an Essay & a Biographical Summary, Boston, Massachusetts, 1956, p. 98 
T. Fairbrother, John Singer Sargent and America, New York, 1986, pp. 135, 161 
R. Ormond and E. Kilmurray, John Singer Sargent: The Early Portraits, Complete Paintings, Volume I, New Haven, Connecticut, 1998, no. 195, pp. 200, 259-260, illustrated 

Boston, Massachusetts, St. Botolph Club, John Singer Sargent's Paintings, January-February 1888 
New York, Society of American Artists, Fifth Avenue Art Galleries, Twelfth Exhibition, April-May 1890, no. 157 
Boston, Massachusetts, Copley Hall, Paintings and Sketches by John S. Sargent, February-March 1899, no. 27 
Boston, Massachusetts, Museum of Fine Arts, Memorial Exhibition of the Works of the Late John Singer Sargent, November-December 1925, no. 26 
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Memorial Exhibition of the Work of John Singer Sargent, January-February 1926, no. 19, illustrated 
New York, Portraits, Inc., Portraits of Children, 1860-1960, April-May 1960, no. 51

Great Expectations: John Singer Sargent Painting Children; 2004-2005

Sold Christie's New York; 11/29/2001; Lot: 25; Sale number 9788; $1,546,000   

  • See the year in review 1887


Close-up B
Photo by Mark Stephenson

Created 11/7/2001