Portrait of Dorothy
(Dorothy Williamson)
John Singer Sargent -- American painter 
Dallas Museum of Art, Texas
Oil on canvas
61.278 x 50.17 cm (24 1/8 x 19 3/4 in.)
Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Leland Fikes Foundation, Inc. Accession Number: 1982.35
Jpg: Friend of the JSS Gallery

From Dallas Museum of Art

Dorothy Williamson was the granddaughter of George Millar Williamson, one of John Singer Sargent's first American patrons. Sargent painted Dorothy's portrait in London in 1900 and exhibited the work the following year at the Society of American Artists in New York. The New York Times critic wrote, "The portraits are many and good, led easily by little Miss 'Dorothy' in the Vanderbilt Gallery. . . . Seen near by, the red paint on the lips, the white paint on the little girl's hat seem quite misplaced, but as one steps back a bit the magic stroke takes place, the red lips are all right, the white ribbon is just right."

From: Mona Magnis 
<Mona Ma  gnis@aol.com > 
Date: Wed, 2 Apr 2003  

I am a Docent with the Dallas Museum of Art.  We own John Singer Sargent's portrait of Dorothy as a little girl (she appears to be between 3 and 4 years old).  I . . . discovered that Dorothy is believed to be the daughter of George Millar Williamson (1849-1921) of Sparkill, New York, who initially owned the picture.  He was one of the first American Book collectors to devote himself almost entirely to modern American and British authors.  It is believed that the portrait was  painted in Sargent's London studio. 

I work with children and they love to try to find a story about Dorothy by analyzing the elements in the picture.  They often ask me how right they are about their conclusions.  Do you know anything [more] about the sitter?  I understand she visited the museum when she was about 90 but the only information I can get about her is that she said "I never liked that picture."  Any help you can give me will be greatly appreciated. 

Mona Magnis 
From: Natasha
Updated: 9/1/2004

Kilmurray and Ormond, in their book of "Later Portraits" say "The history of the present picture is obscure and no biographical details of the sitter have yet come to light." They do know that the painting was done in Sargent's Tite street studio in London as the arm of the chair has been identified as one of his.

Her Grandfather, they go on to say, was George Millar Williamson of Spark Hill, New York, a wealthy collector who had owned Sargent's painting "Neapolitan Children Bathing" which was exhibited as "Innocence Abroad" along with a portrait of Williamson himself and this Dorthy -- the three shown at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1902.

Certainly there must be extended family who know about her. Hopefully they will come forward.

The SIRIS shows a painting in the list of works as does Charles Merrill Mount. It appears your museum bought the painting in 1981 from a Sotheby's auction. There are other Williamsons that JSS Painted but they appear to be from the UK.  That's pretty much all I have thus far.  

Special thanks to Mona Magnis, of Dallas and  friend of the JSS Gallery, for sending me the image of Sargent's painting.  


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


Created 4/4/2003