John Singer Sargent painted the portrait of young Gertrude Vernon in the artwork entitled Lady Agnew in 1892. The painting was commissioned by the man who inherited the estate of Lochnaw in Galloway, Andrew Noel Agnew – Vernon’s soon-to-be husband. The successes of this portrait launched Lady Agnew into society as her beauty captivated all who saw her hypnotizing glare.
The artist was academically trained in the art of painting, and portraits were his strong suit. With praise from the Paris Salon for a portrait of his teacher entitled Carolus-Duran – which received an honorable mention – Sargent became famous for this style of painting. Under the teachings of Duran, Sargent learned to work with less strict technique, letting go of the structured underdrawing and making his brush strokes show. Although this change was gradual, he would eventually become influenced in the Impressionist’s way of painting. The painting Lady Agnew was exhibited in the Royal Academy in 1898 and was loved by the critics, who called it a masterpiece. Auguste Rodin, the sculptor, compared him to the Baroque master Sir Anthony Van Dyck. Sargent was deeply inspired by the Baroque artists and their intense portraits, like Diego Velazquez, and even traveled around Europe to study their work more deeply.
The way Sargent executed this portrait makes it stand out from the other artworks of this nature. The model sits back on a decorated chair in a relaxed and casual position – opposing to the formal poses often used in portraits of influential people. Her head is slightly slanted downwards, and her eyes glare directly at the viewer creating an intense atmosphere. She wears a flowing long light violet dress with puffy, see-through sleeves. One hand seems to be holding a small white flower while it rests on her lap, and her other hand is casually placed behind the arm of the chair.
The background is a turquoise-colored curtain with painted golden Japanese letters and flower arabesques of dark blue and white – an influence of the Orientalism which brought Europe cultural references from the Orient. The left corner of the fabric is covered with a dark shadow, which brings out Lady Agnew’s light and delicate face. The chair is beige with red, blue, green, and pink floral patterns and details in ornamented wood.
Important Notes About Your Painting:
If you have any request to alter your reproduction of Lady Agnew, you must email us after placing your order and we'll have an artist contact you. If you have another image of Lady Agnew that you would like the artist to work from, please include it as an attachment. Otherwise, we will reproduce the above image for you exactly as it is.