John Singer Sargent

Essie, Ruby and Ferdinand, Children of Asher Wertheimer

1902

Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 1613 x 1937 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by the widow and family of Asher Wertheimer in accordance with his wishes 1922
Reference
N03711

Display caption

These three Wertheimer children were painted in the schoolroom of their home at 8 Connaught Place, London. Essie (aged 22) is presented as an adult, seated slightly detached on the sofa with a small dog on her lap. Her younger siblings, Ruby (aged 12) and Ferdinand (13), lean more informally across an ottoman, dressed in clothes typical of the upper classes at this time.

Despite the naturalness of the grouping, certain critics disliked the atmosphere of privilege. The Spectator observed 'Here the pet dogs are bedecked with bows, and the air we feel smells of scent and burnt pastilles'.

Gallery label, July 2004

Catalogue entry

N03711 ESSIE, RUBY AND FERDINAND, CHILDREN OF ASHER WERTHEIMER 1902

Inscr. ‘John S. Sargent. 1902’ b.l.
Canvas, 63 1/2×76 1/4 (161·5×193·5).
Presented to the National Gallery by the widow and family of Asher Wertheimer in accordance with his wishes 1922; transferred 1926.
Coll: As for N03705.
Exh: New Gallery, summer 1902 (251), as ‘Children of A. Wertheimer, Esq.’; Glasgow Institute, 1905 (136).
Lit: Robert Ross, ‘The Wertheimer Sargents’ in Art Journal, 1911, p.8, repr. p.1; Downes, 1925, pp.56, 198, repr. facing p.208; Charteris, 1927, p.270; Mount, 1955, pp.225, 437; McKibbin, 1956, p.130; Mount, 1957, pp.187, 346.
Repr: Kunst für Alle, XXIII, 1907–8, p.31; Manson and Meynell, 1927, n.p.

Essie (Mrs Eustace H. Wilding, 1880–1932?) and Ruby (1889–1942?) were the fourth and sixth (and youngest) daughters of the Wertheimer family, and Ferdinand the fourth and youngest son, who later changed his name to Ferdinand (‘Bob’) Joseph Conway (1888–1950). The group was painted at 8 Connaught Place, London, where it hung over the mantelpiece in the dining-room. The poodle ‘Noble’ appears again here, along with Ferdinand's bulldog and another dog.

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, II

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