Friday, July 30, 2021

Chronicling a Masterpiece

A portrait of Albert Vickers by John Singer Sargent

 

Vickers is undoubtedly one of the best known names in British engineering and it is indeed sad that their final remaining plant will close at the end of this year following the company having been absorbed into BAE Systems.

 

At Masterpiece 2013, however, seeing a portrait of Albert Vickers (1838 – 1919), chairman of the company between 1909 – 1918, reminded me not only of the importance of this business but also of the fine works of John Singer Sargent (1856 – 1925).

 

Portrait of Albert Vickers by John Singer Sargent
Portrait of Albert Vickers by John Singer Sargent

Singer Sargent, an American portrait painter who was born in Florence, is especially famous for two quotes: “Every time I paint a portrait I lose a friend” and “I do not judge, I only chronicle”. The artist also painted Albert Vickers with his wife in 1884 in a work, now shown in the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, entitled “A dinner table at night”.

 

Commissioned by Albert Vickers’ brother Thomas, this particular charcoal on paper portrait was executed in 1912 and is for sale through London and New York based dealers Trinity House. It truly is spectacular.

 

 

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