One of the most sought-after painters of his era, Sargent achieved considerable critical and financial success portraying cosmopolitan members of high society on both sides of the Atlantic. Here, the artist depicts an acquaintance-an heir to the Colt firearms fortune-who had recently married his distant cousin Ralph. In her portrait, Curtis wears an elegant satin dress and poses as if she were welcoming guests into her palatial Venetian home. The painting apparently was a wedding gift to the couple by the artist; its inscription at the top right reads, "To Ralph and Mrs. Ralph, John S. Sargent 1898."
Ferrara, Italy, Palazzo dei Diamanti, Sargent and Italy (22 September 2002-6 January 2003); traveled to Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2 February-11 May 2003); to Denver, Denver Art Museum (28 June-21 September 2003); illus. p. 165.
Boston, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Gondola Days: Isabella Stewart Gardner and the Palazzo Barbaro Circle (21 April-15 August 2004); illus. fig. 48, p. 73, listed p. 275 as Lisa Curtis; pp. 70-75.
|1898 - probably 1933||Ralph Wormeley Curtis [1854-1922] and Lisette De Wolf Colt Curtis [1867-1933], Paris and Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, France, probably by descent to their daughter Sylvia Curtis Steinert1|
|Probably 1933 - probably 1936||Sylvia Curtis Steinert [1899-1981], Paris and Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, France, to her brother, Ralph Wormeley Curtis, Jr.2|
|Probably 1936 - probably 1973||Ralph Wormeley Curtis, Jr. [1909-1973] Venice, Italy, and Paris, France, by descent to his children Patricia Curtis Viganò, Lisa Marjorie Curtis de Beaumont, and Ralph D. Curtis|
|Probably 1973 - probably 1998||Patricia Curtis Viganò, Venice, Italy; Lisa Marjorie Curtis de Beaumont, France; and Ralph D. Curtis, Venice, Italy|
|1998||(Christie’s, New York, Dec. 29, 1998, private treaty sale to the Cleveland Museum of Art)|
|1998-||The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio|
1The painting, inscribed “To Ralph and Mrs. Ralph / John S. Sargent 1898,” was a wedding gift from Sargent, Ralph Wormeley Curtis’s distant cousin. The portrait was photographed in situ at the Villa Sylvia, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat around 1927.
2The painting apparently resided in the Villa Sylvia, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, until Sylvia Curtis Steinert sold the property upon her divorce in 1936. Subsequently it was transferred to her brother, who resided in the family home at the Palazzo Barbaro, Venice; he is listed as the painting’s owner when it was published in 1956 and 1970. According to Patricia Curtis Viganò, the art in the Palazzo Barbaro was crated and stored at the Doge’s Palace in Venice for safekeeping during the Second World War.
Berendt, John. The City of Falling Angels. New York: Penguin Press, 2005.
Cox, E.H.M., “Houses & Gardens of the Riviera: Villa Sylvia, Cap Ferrat, The Home of Mrs. Lisa Curtis, Country Life 61 (January 15, 1927): 91.
Downes, William Howe. John S. Sargent: His Life and Work. Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1925.
Eric Widing, email to Victoria Sears Goldman, March 20, 2013, in CMA curatorial file.
McKibben, David, Sargent’s Boston, with an Essay & a Biographical Summary & A Complete Check List of Sargent’s Portraits. Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1956.
Ormond, Richard. John Singer Sargent: Paintings, Drawings, Watercolors. New York: Harper & Row, 1970.
Purchase receipt for Christie's private treaty sale, Dec. 29, 1998, Director Files, Robert Bergman, Box 8, file 8, Ingalls Library, the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH.