This is one of a series of portraits Sargent was commissioned to make of the family of the art dealer Asher Wertheimer (1844–1918). The two men became friends and Wertheimer helped Sargent obtain commissions. This portrait shows Wertheimer’s eldest daughters, Helena (Ena) and Elizabeth (Betty). Sargent was much attracted by the charm of the Wertheimer family, especially the vivacity of Ena (right), something which is clearly revealed in this portrait. The different textures of the sisters’ dresses are skilfully evoked, the rich depth of Betty’s red velvet contrasting with the shine of Ena’s white damask.
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John Singer Sargent (45)