An Interior in Venice1899 by John Singer Sargent
At the end of the 19th century, the Palazzo Barbaro belonged to the American Curtis family, distant cousins of John Singer Sargent. Henry James and Claude Monet both made work while staying with the artistically inclined family and Sargent himself sent them this conversation piece as a thank-you gift after one of his frequent sojourns there. Perhaps the most striking thing about the picture, aside from the glinting bits of gilt baroque decor, is the seated matriarch in the foreground, Ariana Wormeley Curtis. It’s as if Sargent painted one of his traditional full-length portrait subjects, and then zoomed out to show her within her day-to-day context. (Incidentally, Mrs. Curtis would not accept this picture from Sargent, even when Henry James implored her to do so. She was offended by her own pallid complexion.)
Click to select the cover image for this artwork.