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John Singer Sargent (American, 1856–1925)
Mrs. Peter Chardon Brooks, 1890
Oil on canvas, 49-3/4 x 40-1/8 inches
Signed upper right: John S. Sargent 1890
Courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA.

Mrs. Peter Chardon Brooks, whose maiden name was Sarah Lawrence, lived from 1845 to 1915. She was the daughter of Sarah Elizabeth Appleton and noted manufacturer and philanthropist Amos Adams Lawrence, for whose family the Massachusetts city of Lawrence is named. In 1890, Sargent painted this portrait of Mrs. Brooks; he also painted portraits of her husband Peter and their daughter Eleanor. This portrait was recently given to the Peabody Essex Museum by several donors who wish to remain anonymous.The Brookses were avid collectors of art, and Mrs. Brooks is shown surrounded by some of their neoclassical accessories. Seated before a small circular table known as a gueridon en anthenienne, in her right hand she is grasping a bronze figure of a nude female, probably Victory. The pose and careful rendering of her face are reminiscent of the work of John Singleton Copley, whom Sargent greatly admired. Sargent used bold dashes of paint to define his subject’s dress and surroundings, and used a predominantly dark palette that allowed him to dramatically highlight her arms, hands, and face.

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