Mrs. Albert Vickers (Edith Foster) (Primary Title)

John Singer Sargent, American (born Italy), 1856 - 1925 (Artist)

oil on canvas
United States
Unframed: 82 3/4 × 39 13/16 in. (210.19 × 101.12 cm)
Framed: 95 × 51 1/2 in. (241.3 × 130.81 cm)

Edith Foster Vickers, wife of a newly rich British manufacturer who would number among Sargent’s most important early patrons, is dressed for an evening in the country. An up-to-the-minute bustle and boned bodice ornament her custom-made Aesthetic gown. A stylistic amalgam of the popular late-19th-century conception of earlier English styles, the dress reveals the sitter’s progressive taste and willing collaboration with Sargent on the portrait’s conceptualization. This artful historicism was praised by critics in Paris and London. One went so far as to link Mrs. VIcker’s eerily distinctive appearance to the haunted heroines of Edgar Allan Poe.

Mrs. Albert Vickers is one of four early full-length portraits by Sargent showcasing his updated Old Master style. Its novelty attracted enormous international attention and led sculptor August Rodin to name him “the Van Dyck of our times.”

signed, lower right: "John S. Sargent"
Adolph D. and Wilkins C. Williams Fund
"John Singer Sargent", National Museum, Stockholm, Sweden, October 4, 2018 - January 13, 2019

"Great British Paintings from American Collections", Yale Center for British Art, September 26 - December 30, 2001; Huntington Library Art Collection & Botanical Gardens, San Marino, CA, February 3 - May 5, 2002.

"John Singer Sargent: Portraits of the Werthheimer Family", VMFA, July 11 - October 29, 2000.

"Uncanny Spectacle: The Public Career of John Singer Sargent," The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA, June 12 - September 7, 1997.

"America Around 1900: Impressionism, Realism, and Modern Life", VMFA, June 14 - September 17, 1995.

“Counterpoint: Two Centuries of American Masters,” Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York. April 21 – June 8, 1990.

"Exhibition of the Works by the late John S. Sargent, R.A.", Royal Academy London, 1926, p. 62, no. 411, 78 illus., lent by V. C. Vickers, Esq.

"The One Hundred and Eighteenth Annual Exhibition", Royal Academy London, 1886, p. 19, no. 195.

Paris Salon, Exposition Officielle (103e Exposition), opened May 1, 1885, p. 193, no. 2191, as Portrait de Mme. V…
Commissioned and owned by the family of the sitter, Mrs. Albert Vickers of Sussex, England until 1909 [d. 1909]; [1] Given to husband of sitter, Albert Vickers; [2] Inherited by son, Vincent Cartwright Vickers Esq., Royston, Hertsfordshire, England in 1926; [3] Given to sister, Hon. Mrs. Stuart Pleydell-Bouverie; [4] Given to Mrs. Pleydell-Bouverie’s nephew, Leonard Vickers; [5] Sold to niece of Vincent Vickers, the Late Hon. Lady Gibbs, C.B.E., Berkshire, England; [6] Acquired by Hon. Lady Gibbs’ son and art dealer, Christopher Gibbs until 1989; [7] (Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York, N.Y.) until 1992; [8] Purchased by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Va., September 17, 1992.[9]

[1] According to Richard Ormond’s “John Singer Sargent Catalogue Raisonné,” p. 387-388. The piece was commissioned and painted at Lavington Rectory, Petworth, where the artist had visited the Vickers’ family.

[2] Information from the VMFA Curatorial and Registration files.

[3] According to Ormond’s “John Singer Sargent Catalogue Raisonné,” p. 387-388, as well as information from the Hirschl & Adler Galleries’ exhibition catalogue, “Counterpoint: Two Centuries of American Masters.”

[4] According to Ormond’s “John Singer Sargent Catalogue Raisonné,” p. 387.

[5] According to Ormond’s “John Singer Sargent Catalogue Raisonné,” p. 387.

[6] According to Ormond’s “John Singer Sargent Catalogue Raisonné,” p. 387. However, there is a lack of information on dates and sale documentation.

[7] According to Hirschl & Adler Galleries’ exhibition catalogue, “Counterpoint: Two Centuries of American Masters,” Lady Gibbs owned the piece until 1989. In Andrew Decker’s "American Paintings: Sales Picking Up," Gibbs’s son, Christopher Gibbs, owned the piece around 1989, at which point he was negotiating with Richard Feigen & Co. of New York, and later sold the work to the Hirschl & Adler Galleries.

[8] Information from the VMFA Curatorial and Registration files. It is also mentioned in Andrew Decker’s article that the piece was co-owned by Richard Feigen and the Galleries. The painting was also listed for sale by Richard Feigen & Co. in The Art Newspaper in June 1992, issue no. 19, listed under the Grosvenor House Antiques Fair (June 10-20, 1991).

[9] Accessioned into the collection on September 17, 1992. Information in VMFA Curatorial and Registration files.
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

Some object records are not complete and do not reflect VMFA's full and current knowledge. VMFA makes routine updates as records are reviewed and enhanced.