"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Edith Wharton

This 1870 portrait of Edith Wharton (1862-1937) by Edward Harrison May hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.
"Before embarking on her celebrated writing career, Edith Newbold Jones Wharton led a privileged life as a member of New York society. Edward Harrison May, a British-born artist working in Paris, painted her portrait during an extensive family sojourn in Europe. Wharton, who would become famous for her critical depictions of the New York upper class, as in the Pulitzer Prize-winning Age of Innocence, was strongly influenced by these European trips of her youth. As an adult she chose to spend much of her life abroad, forming friendships with other American expatriates, such as Henry James. Despite Wharton's cheerful demeanor in this portrait, she would later chronicle the frustrations of her child­hood. Yet it was during this time that she came to enjoy 'making up,' occupying the fictional worlds she would write about as an adult." -- National Portrait Gallery

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