Isabella Stewart Gardner purchased a portrait of herself from John Singer Sargent in 1888 for $3,000. The painting features a unique blend of Eastern and Western influences that speak to Isabella’s passion for art and culture. Sargent was a close friend of Isabella and drew inspiration from the masterpieces within her museum.
The painting caused controversy when exhibited publicly due to the revealing dress worn by Isabella in the portrait. Despite this, Sargent painted two additional portraits of Isabella throughout her life. The painting currently resides in the world-renowned Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum located in Boston.
This particular piece serves as an exceptional example of Sargent’s skillful use of light and composition, which draws attention to the intricate details of Isabella’s dress, hair, and jewelry. It also demonstrates how art can reflect not only its subject but also its creator’s relationship with their patron, as shown by the personal relationship between Isabella Stewart Gardner and John Singer Sargent.