Tuesday, June 29, 2010

We'll miss you, Polly, but we welcome you, Eugenia

By Michelle Murdock, Curator of Exhibitions

They say good things don’t last, but the Girls Scouts also say, “Make new friends and keep the old.” Today we said goodbye to one of the paintings in John Singer Sargent: Portraits in Praise of Women, - Polly Barnard, or The Girl in White Muslin - but said hello to a new friend, Madame Errazuriz, or The Lady in Black.

Top and above: packing Polly

Eugenia Huici, was born in Chile and married the wealthy diplomat Jose Thomas Errazuriz, with whom she moved to Paris around 1880. Eugenia’s husband was an artist himself, and they shared many mutual friends with Sargent. She was known as an attractive and outgoing woman with impeccable taste who enjoyed socializing with her circle of friends, all qualities that appealed to Sargent. They became lifelong friends in Paris and later in London.

It is likely that Eugenia met Sargent while visiting Venice on her honeymoon. He painted her a number of times in the early 1880s, always in informal compositions like the one now on view. The portrait is an exceptionally engaging depiction of her, as her smile indicates a friendly familiarity with the viewer. Sargent’s striking contrast of the black in Eugenia’s evening dress with the reds in the upholstery and fan lend an air of elegance to the picture.

Installing Madame Errazuriz

Sometimes, things change fast in the Exhibitions world. One minute there’s a painting in a gallery, the next minute it’s swapped out for a different one. But that’s ok because we get to share with our visitors the old and the new and it makes for an organic, lively presentation. Polly will miss you but Madame Eugenia welcomes you!


Michele said...

What a perfectly lovely reason to see the show again! Thanks for the heads up on the 'new gal' in town!

An Aesthete's Lament said...

Errázuriz died in an automobile accident in her 90s, while crossing the street, apparently, in Chile.

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