John Singer Sargent

Sir Philip Sassoon


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John Singer Sargent 1856–1925
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 952 × 578 mm
frame: 1175 × 790 × 88 mm
Bequeathed by Sir Philip Sassoon Bt 1939

Catalogue entry


Inscr. ‘John S. Sargent’ t.l. and ‘1923’ t.r.
Canvas, 37 1/2×22 3/4 (95·5×58), with painted strips approximately 2 (5) wide turned under on all four sides.
Bequeathed by Sir Philip Sassoon, Bt., 1939.
Coll: Commissioned by the sitter from the artist.
Exh: R.A., 1924 (47); 52nd Autumn Exhibition, Liverpool, September–December 1924 (317); R.A., winter 1926 (33, repr. Illustrations of the Sargent Exhibition, p.76); Tate Gallery, June–October 1926; R.S.A., 1928 (184); Re-opening Exhibition, Liverpool, October–December 1933 (131).
Lit: Downes, 1925, p.225; Charteris, 1927, p.277; Mount, 1955, pp.384, 441; McKibbin, 1956, p.122; Mount, 1957, pp.317, 350.
Repr: Royal Academy Illustrated, 1924, p.99; Manson and Meynell, 1927, n.p.

Sir Philip Sassoon, Bt., C.M.G., G.B.E., M.P. (1888–1939), was a close friend of the artist, and this portrait was painted at a time long after Sargent had given up his career as a portrait painter. In addition to his political interests, Sir Philip was a connoisseur and wealthy patron of the arts. He served as a Trustee of the National Gallery (Chairman 1932–6), the Tate Gallery, the Wallace Collection, and the British School at Rome, besides organizing many spring exhibitions in aid of charity at his own house in Park Lane.

Mount confirmed (letter of 15 May 1963) that this portrait was begun on a larger scale, for he possesses a letter in which Sargent asks the sitter to come to see the effect while he holds a smaller frame before the large unfinished canvas. Two charcoal drawings by Sargent of the same sitter, of 1912 and 1921, belong to the Marchioness of Cholmondeley.

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

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