Mrs. Gardner in White
John Singer Sargent
(Florence, 1856 - 1925, London)
Watercolor on paper
John Singer Sargent painted this portrait of Isabella Stewart Gardner shortly after she had suffered a debilitating stroke, and he was working on the mural decoration for the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She described this work as an informal sketch, and called it “a water-colour, not meant, I hope, to look like me.” The calmness of her pose and shroud-like swath of white fabric express an otherworldliness that bears little resemblance to her previous ebullient character. This is the last portrait of Isabella before her death in 1924.