Pretty dresses at the Getty, third of three. From the Getty placard:
John Singer Sargent (American, 1856-1925)
Oil on canvas
As if about to speak, Countess Clary Aldringen (1867-1930) invites the viewer to enter her space (actually Sargent’s London studio, complete with stage props). The white satin gown — with wide sleeves emphasizing her lithe figure — is rendered with Sargent’s bravura technique, painted at lightning speed at the height of his career. Commissioned by the sitter’s husband, while he was counselor to the Austro-Hungarian Embassy in London, for the family castle in Czechoslovakia, the portrait exemplifies the international quality of Sarget’s practice, as well as why Rodin called him “the Van Dyck of our times.”
Lent by Renée and Lloyd Greif
There’s an interesting article about Sargent, and this painting, at the Getty web site: 85 Years after John Singer Sargent. Another site dedicated to Sargent has a page that gives this provenance for the painting:
Formerly in the collection of Aldringe, Clara, Countess, until 1930.
Latour, Henri de Baillet, Countess, 1930-1945.
Anonymous collection, 1945.
Sotheby’s, New York, New York Sale (Nov. 22, 1988), lot 56.
If I’m reading that correctly, it says that the painting belonged to Thérèse (the lady in the painting) from the time it was painted (when she was 29) until her death at 63. It then passed to a different countess, the wife of Count Henri de Baillet-Latour, a Belgian aristocrat who was the third president of the International Olympic Committee, and whose tenure including presiding over the controversial 1936 Berlin Olympics. He died in 1942, and if my guess is correct his wife survived him by three years, until 1945, when she died and the painting passed through a couple of unspecified owners until it was sold at auction to its current owners, the Greifs, in 1988.
I spent a while staring at that strand of pearls on the dress’s bodice. I don’t know what you would even call that sort of jewelry, but then I’m not particularly knowledgeable about the adornments of 18th-century aristocrats. But I thought it was pretty.