by John Singer Sargent
oil on canvas, 1913
33 1/2 in. x 26 1/2 in. (851 mm x 673 mm)
Bequeathed by Henry James, 1916
Artistback to top
- John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), Portrait and landscape painter and muralist. Artist associated with 72 portraits, Sitter in 5 portraits.
This portraitback to top
The American-born novelist Henry James settled in England, at Lamb House, Rye, in 1898. By the time this portrait was painted he was at the end of a career which had seen the success of early novels such as Portrait of a Lady (1881), followed by the late masterpieces The Wings of the Dove (1902) and The Golden Bowl (1904). This portrait was commissioned to celebrate James's seventieth birthday by a group of 269 subscribers organised by the American novelist Edith Wharton, although ultimately Sargent, a fellow American and friend, waived his fee. When it was completed James pronounced the portrait to be 'a living breathing likeness and a masterpiece of painting'.
Related worksback to top
Linked publicationsback to top
- National Portrait Gallery: 100 Portraits, p. 88
- Audio Guide
- Victorian Portraits Resource Pack, p. 38
- Cooper, John, A Guide to the National Portrait Gallery, 2009, p. 45
- Cooper, John, Visitor's Guide, 2000, p. 85
- Essay by Barbara Dayer Gallati, John Singer Sargent: Painting Friends, 2015, p. 66
- Funnell, Peter, Victorian Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery Collection, 1996, p. 38
- Funnell, Peter (introduction); Marsh, Jan, A Guide to Victorian and Edwardian Portraits, 2011, p. 42
- John Cooper, National Portrait Gallery Visitor's Guide, 2006, p. 85
- Richard Ormond, Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends, 2015 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 12 February - 25 May 2015), p. 164
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 333
- Various, William Morris: Words & Wisdom, 2014 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 16 October 2014 - 11 January 2015)
- Various contributors, National Portrait Gallery: A Portrait of Britain, 2014, p. 181
Events of 1913back to top
Current affairsThe Suffragette, Emily Davison dies after stepping out in front of the King's horse as a protest at the Epsom Derby. In the same year the Liberal government passed the Cat and Mouse Act allowing them to release and re-arrest Suffragettes who went on hunger strike while in prison. Davidson, herself, had been on hunger strike and was force-fed while detained at Holloway Prison.
Art and scienceStravinsky's ballet The Rite of Spring comes to London following its premier at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris. Audiences were shocked by Stravinsky's rhythmic and dissonant musical score and by the violent jerky dancing of Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, which were intended to represent pagan ritual.
InternationalHenry Ford introduces the assembly line at the Ford Motor Company, rapidly increasing the rate at which the famous Model T could be manufactured, leading to massive growth in the motorcar industry and demonstrating to other industries the efficiency of mass production.
See this portrait
On display at Royal Academy of Arts, London