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Sargent made this portrait at Broadway in the Cotswolds at the time he was working on 'Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose', which shows Mrs Barnard's daughters Polly and Dorothy. The lighting in both paintings is artificial, and they were posed in the evening.

Sargent, who was American, was specially invited to contribute to the New English Art Club's first exhibition in London in 1886. This portrait was one of the two pictures he showed, and the reviewer in 'The Times' singled it out, commenting that the face was 'painted with astonishing and uncompromising life-likeness, and the hands - to be quite frank - very clumsily sketched in.'

September 2004