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Almina, Daughter of Asher and Mrs. Wertheimer, 1908
Oil on canvas
The Tate Gallery, London
Presented by the widow and family of Asher Wertheimer in accordance with his wishes, 1922

This portrait of Almina is the only costume piece in the series. The twenty-two-year-old woman seems to revel in her role as an Oriental princess. In consort with his sitter, Sargent mixes references from distinctly different Eastern cultures. Almina wears male attire from Persia, but she holds a stringed instrument from India. Both were props from Sargent’s collection.

Although the tradition of costume portraiture dates back to Van Dyck, Almina’s Jewish background adds an additional layer of meaning to the depiction. Jewish women were often orientalized, associated with the East. Unlike their reserved English counterparts, Jewish women--especially during the nineteenth- and early twentieth centuries--were often stereotypically represented as exotic, overly sensual, and extravagant. Perhaps unintentionally, the artist and sitter invoke these attitudes. Almina’s portrait was one of the few that did not hang in the dining room. It was installed in the adjacent morning room, set apart, perhaps, because of its dramatic exoticism.





Asher Wertheimer, 1898
Oil on canvas
The Tate Gallery, London
Presented by the widow and family of Asher Wertheimer in acccordance with his wishes, 1922

Unveiled at the Royal Academy in 1898, some critics focused negatively on the aspects of caricature in Sargent’s playful depiction. Others--including Asher Wertheimer himself--were enormously enthusiastic. In fact, one writer proclaimed this picture the finest modern portrait ever painted, rivaled only by Velasquez’s masterpiece Innocent X. So successful was Sargent’s mastery of this likeness that Asher’s daughter, Ena, mistook the portrait for her father when calling for him at Sargent’s studio.





Ena and Betty, Daughters of Asher and Mrs. Wertheimer, 1901
Oil on canvas
The Tate Gallery, London
Presented by the widow and family of Asher Wertheimer in accordance with his wishes, 1922

This double portrait--with Ena in white and Betty in red--has been considered one of Sargent’s masterpieces from the time it was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1901. While Sargent’s depiction of their fine attire and lavish surroundings relates to many other portraits by the artist, their vivacious entrance, expressive faces, and familial intimacy distinguish his portrayal of the two sisters. Sargent acknowledged a particular fondness for his Jewish clients, claiming them to be especially lively and warm.





Portrait of Ena Wertheimer:
A Vele Gonfie, 1905

Oil on canvas
64 1/4 x 42 1/2 in. (163 x 108 cm)
The Tate Gallery, London: Bequeathed by Robert Mathias, 1996






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