Mrs. William Crowninshield Endicott, Jr. (1903). John Singer Sargent (American, 1856-1925). Oil on canvas.
The sitter, neé (Marie) Louise Thoron married William Crowninshield Endicott Jr. in 1889. Richard Ormond and Elaine Kilmurray write of the present work, “As Sargent had, as yet, no studio in Boston in which to work, he was invited to paint Mrs Endicott in her own home…Sargent was a dinner guest at the Endicott house the night before the sittings were due to start, and he found Mrs Endicott wearing a Worth gown which had been designed especially for the portrait. He dismissed both this and another party dress in favour of the black and white flowered muslin in which she was eventually painted.” Sargent masterfully captures the various textures and patterns of the sitters dress and shawl. He further heightens the soft, voluptuousness of the fabrics by juxtaposing them with highlights of cool gold in Mrs. Endicotts bracelet, fan and hair clip. Sargent depicts the sitter with a forceful presence combined with a quality of elegance and social ease. The composition is in itself straightforward, consisting of a three-quarter length depiction of the elegant woman, holding a rose to her chest with one hand and a gilded fan at her thigh in the other. Sargent has added many of the refinements of technique that mark this as one of his classic works of portraiture, particularly the sitters engagement with the viewer, her luminescence and the dashing brushwork with which the artist paints her extraordinary gown and shawl.