About this artwork

Lady Agnew's direct gaze and informal pose, emphasised by the flowing fabric and lilac sash of her dress ensure the portrait's striking impact. Andrew Noel Agnew, a barrister who had inherited the baronetcy and estates of Lochnaw in Galloway, commissioned this painting of his young wife, Gertrude Vernon (1864-1932), in 1892. It was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1898 and made Sargent's name. The sculptor Rodin described him as 'the Van Dyck of our times'. Portrait commissions poured in and Sargent enjoyed something of a cult following in Edwardian society. It also launched Lady Agnew as a society beauty.

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John Singer Sargent

John Singer Sargent

The American artist Sargent became one of the most fashionable and highly successful portrait painters of Edwardian society. He was born in Italy and travelled extensively both in childhood and throughout his career. Sargent trained in Paris and developed a fluid painting style, remarkable for his dazzling brushwork and bold handling of light. He also painted fine landscapes and produced moving and powerful pictures as an official war artist during the First World War. His move to London in 1884 was prompted by the scandal his provocative portrait of Madame Gautreau caused at the Paris Salon.