John Singer Sargent: Mrs. Cecil Wade

Mrs. Cecil Wade: John Singer Sargent

This is an 1886 portrait of Scottish socialite Mrs Cecil Wade by the American leading portraitist artist John Singer Sargent.

Analysis of the Portrait of Mrs Cecil Wade

John Singer Sargent was born in Florence, Italy to American parents and lived and worked much of his professional life in Europe. He painted this portrait of Scottish socialite Mrs. Cecil Wade in 1886 after scandalizing Paris with his previous Portrait of Madame X.

He displays his virtuosic mastery of the effects of light with a highlighted foreground sitter occupied with an expression of perhaps absorption. The background is a powerful essay in glinting and more subtle light effects opening onto a sheltered window.

Mrs. Cecil Wade (1863-1908) was born in Glasglow and married successful English stockbroker Cecil Lowry Wade. She was 23 years old when she sat for this portrait.

Wade owned this painting until her death in 1908 when it was inherited by her daughter Aileen and it remained in the United Kingdom. It was further bequeathed to her nephew Sir Ruthven L. Wade in 1955. It remained with him until 1986 when it went to auction at Sotheby’s in London and was purchased by the Enid and Crosby Kemper Foundation.

John Singer Sargent’s Mrs. Cecil Wade was then donated to the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, Missouri, the United States where it remains today.

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