4/22/2008

Portrait of the week - Elsie Palmer




This painting is yet another by John Singer Sargent (for more examples of his work featured here go to here). This one was done in 1889-1890 and shows miss Elsie Palmer. She was at this time about 17 years old.

The portrait is very typical Sargent and was one of the paintings that would make him more popular on the English market - American himself. The portraits pulls off being both beautiful and almost scary at the same time, a rare thing indeed.

It is really a rather simple and straightforward picture of a teenage girl, but there is something about the way she is portrayed that makes her more than a pretty face, maybe because she is not painted as very much of a beauty with eyes that seems to be almost sunk into the face and the straight hair that has the same colour as the back-ground and almost makes her become one with it. There is not even a charming little smile for the onlooker. The girl is dead serious.

She is dressed in high-collard white dress with long sleeves and a white belt at the waist. She also has a grey shawl laying next to her, making it almost hard to determine if this is the portrait of a girl going to a party or a convalescent.

Miss Elsie Palmer was born in 1873 as the daughter to a wealthy American from Colorado who had moved to England with his family. She later married the British novelist Leo Myer (born in 1881 and who committed suicide in 1944), a fringe member of the Bloomsbury Group. She died in 1955.

The painting is currently at display at Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.

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