Painted in 1902, the present work was most likely commissioned during the artist's brief stay in London at 39 Hyde Park Gate in July that year. Elizabeth (Betty) Wertheimer (1877 - 1953) was the daughter of Asher Wertheimer - a wealthy Jewish art merchant living in London - and Flora Joseph. Wertheimer's younger daughter, who was twenty-five at the time, is viewed frontally, against a pale wall which, along with the cold colour of her dress emphasizes her mass of upswept dark hair. Her pose and her eyes looking directly at the viewer seem to beckon, enhancing the effect of the bare left shoulder and low neckline. Her left hand holds a fan and her dress, making the drapery more sensual as it defines the curves of her body.
Betty married Euston Abraham Salaman on 18 October 1899; around a year after his death, in 1917 she married Arthur Ricketts (1874-1968). Therefore, Betty was already married to Salaman when the portrait was done in 1902, and this explains why The Graphic published it as 'Mrs. E. A. Salaman' in the article about the most important paintings shown at the International Society in 1906. This, however, has not prevented some recent confusion with her older sister, Helena (Ena, 1874-1935), who is at her right in the portrait by John Singer Sargent conserved in the Tate Gallery, London, and painted one year prior to Boldini's portrait.
Even after he left France to settle in London, Sargent was constantly in touch with artists working in Paris. Boldini frequently visited him in England and shared his circle of friends that included Asher Wertheimer, Betty's father. By that time, Sargent was the official painter of British society, and he interpreted his clients' needs differently from the Ferrarese artist. The image of Betty Wertheimer we see in the Sargent portrait is respectable and reassuring, she personifies a social group, which having become rich through capitalism, had achieved full-fledged, upper middleclass status. The portrait by Boldini, on the other hand reveals the woman's sensual charge and makes her an icon of style, through the refined clothing and accessories, which the painter selected very carefully leaving nothing to chance.
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