Sargent and the Newlywed Stokeses

John Singer Sargent painted Mr. and Mrs. I. N. Phelps Stokes in 1897, during the couple’s honeymoon – a classic portrait and an icon of the time. The three of them spent weeks in his studio, with Sargent occasionally taking breaks to pound out tunes on his grand piano. The great painter was at the height of his career and almost too busy to make time for them, but an influential family friend had commissioned the work as a wedding gift.

Sargent in Studio

Not everyone liked  it. One critic called the painting “too clever for its own good.”


Bringing the portrait into existence had been a challenge for Sargent. According to I.N. Phelps Stokes, newlywed Edith “sat to” Sargent 25 times, posing over and over agin in a blue silk gown. Sargent finally got fed up with the formality and said “I want to paint you as you are.” Edith had come in from the hot London streets that day wearing informal attire, clothes drastically different than the diaphanous gowns the painter’s models typically posed in, and she had a fresh, dewy look about her cheeks.

In other words, she was sweating.


Come tonight to see more pictures and hear more nuggets about the Newton and Edith Stokes, their portrait, and their remarkable lives – Dominican Academy, 44 East 68th Street, bet. Park and Madison, at 6pm, sponsored by the Victorian Society of New York. Free.

1 Comment

Filed under Art, Culture, Fashion, History, Jean Zimmerman, Love, Fiercely, Writers, Writing

One response to “Sargent and the Newlywed Stokeses


    Well? How’d it go? Overflow crowd? Did everyone dress up in Victorian garb?

    I’ve browsed this chapter’s calendar of events… tours and lectures, and I’d enjoy each one! Do you attend others? Just the titles and descriptions are enlightening, like this one, coming up in December:

    Marking the 120th anniversary of the premiere of the “New World” Symphony, independent scholar Majda Kallab Whitaker will examine the intersecting lives of Antonín Dvorák and his American patron, Jeannette Thurber. She was the founder and president of the National Conservatory of Music of America in New York City, exemplifying the ambitious, philanthropic women who emerged in the late 19th century

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