She with the sparkling, vivacious countenance, and he in the shadows, rumpled and slightly hangdog. Mr. and Mrs. I.N. Phelps Stokes, Newton and Edith, rendered by John Singer Sargent and now hanging proudly in the refurbished American Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I think the new rooms look wonderful.
In this particular hall of Sargents Mr. and Mrs. Stokes take their place two steps down from the also spectacular Madame X. Edith and Madame X are of course completely different — X with her bone white shoulders, violet tinged nose and deep decolletage, Edith casual, rosy faced, draped in a tennis-ready long skirt of white pique. Edith buzzes with engaged energy, while Virginie Amelie Gautreau seems aloof, too cool for school.
If you can’t get to the Met, you can take a virtual trip through their section of the exhibit, “Portraiture in the Grand Manner, 1880-1900,” courtesy of The New York Times, with a glimpse of Edith and Newton along the way.