Lot 76
  • 76

JOHN SINGER SARGENT | Mrs. Charles Anstruther-Thomson

450,000 - 550,000 USD
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  • John Singer Sargent
  • Mrs. Charles Anstruther-Thomson
  • signed John S. Sargent (upper left)
  • oil on canvas
  • 58 1/2 by 38 1/2 inches
  • (148.6 by 97.8 cm)
  • Painted circa 1898.


Agnes Anstruther-Thomson (the sitter)
Grizel Ansthruther-Thompson, Baroness Knunt Bonde (by descent, daughter of the above)
Baron John Bonde, Colinsburgh, Scotland (by descent, son of the above)
Sold: Sotheby's, New York, May 29, 1981, lot 52
Private collection (acquired at the above sale)
Spanierman Gallery, New York, 1989
Acquired by the present owner from the above


London, New Gallery, Eleventh Exhibition, Summer 1898, no. 223, n.p.
Denver, Colorado, Denver Art Museum, American Impressionism and Realism: The Painting of Modern Life, 1885-1915, December 1994-March 1995, n.p.
Denver, Colorado, Denver Art Museum, November 1997-November 1998 (on loan)


"Art. At the New Gallery," Academy, April 30, 1898, p. 479
"The New Gallery," Illustrated London News, vol. 112, May 21, 1898, p. 741
Fernand Khnopff, "The New Gallery," Magazine of Art, vol. 22, 1898, p. 430
"The New Gallery," Punch, May 14, 1898, p. 220
A. Lys Baldry, "The Art of J. S. Sargent, R.A.: Part I," International Studio, vol. 10, April 1900, p. 21
William Howe Downes, John S. Sargent: His Life and Work, Boston, Massachusetts, 1925, p. 184
Evan Charteris, John Sargent, London, 1927, p. 267 
Charles Merrill Mount, John Singer Sargent: A Biography, New York, 1955, no. 9817, p. 436 
David McKibbin, Sargent's Boston, Boston, Massachusetts, 1956, p. 126
Richard Ormond and Elaine Kilmurray, John Singer Sargent: Portraits of the 1890s, vol. II, New Haven, Connecticut, 2002, no. 355, pp. 140, 189, illustrated p. 140


The following condition report has been provided by Simon Parkes, Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc. 502 East 74th St. New York, NY 212-734-3920, simonparkes@msn.com, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's. This painting seems to be in very good condition. The canvas is lined with wax as an adhesive and stretched onto a mechanical stretcher. The paint layer is unevenly cleaned. Under ultraviolet light, it can be seen that the face, neck and left arm have been fairly thoroughly cleaned, but a noticeable layer of old varnish remains on the surface in the remainder of the picture for no apparent reason. There do not appear to be any issues beneath this old varnish. The face has also probably slightly discolored since the work was cleaned and lined. The work could be hung in its current state.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Agnes Anstruther-Thomson was the daughter of James Alexander Guthrie, a director of the Bank of England. In 1882, she married the prominent Scottish landowner Charles Anstruther-Thomson. A fashionable member of London society, she held salons at the couple’s townhouse in Rutland Gate. Her sister-in-law, the writer and artist Clementina Anstruther-Thomson, was a close friend and student of John Singer Sargent, and had posed for him a decade earlier in 1889.

Mrs. Charles Anstruther-Thomson is a work of stunning subtlety and balance. Using a narrow range of light and color, the artist captures the tone and texture of his model's diaphanous dress, which reveals her attractive sinuous silhouette.  Sargent’s use of dramatic chiaroscuro and vigorously applied impressionistic brushstrokes exemplifies his expertise in capturing the fleeting effects of light. The bright yellow highlights of her dress are reflected harmoniously in the side table, while the rosy flesh tones of her face are set off by the warm red highlights in her gown. The present work is a striking example of Sargent’s genius in portraiture, demonstrating his ability to capture a complete impression through the distillation of an observed moment. 

In discussing Sargent’s portraiture from the 1890s, Richard Ormond and Elaine Kilmurray have noted: “Many of Sargent’s sitters in the 1890s were members of the new plutocracy, who were transforming traditional upper-class society. Together with American millionaires, they created a boom in the market for the work of English portrait painters of the eighteenth century, whose popularity and prices soared during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. […] It is not difficult to see why Sargent should have appealed to this new type of patron. The artist endowed them with social prestige, power and glamour – they were sanctioned by the sweep of his brush” (John Singer Sargent: Portraits of the 1890s, vol. II, New Haven, Connecticut, 2002, p. 4).