DETAIL : John Singer SARGENT, The fountain, Villa Torlonia, Frascati, Italy 1907, The Art Institute of Chicago, American Art Collection DETAIL : John Singer SARGENT, Almina, daughter of Asher Wertheimer 1908, Tate, London, presented by the widow and family of Asher Wertheimer in accordance with his wishes in 1922
James WHISTLER | Arrangement in black no. 5: Lady Meux

United States 1834 – Great Britain 1903
France 1855-60, England 1860-92, France 1892-95, England from 1895
Arrangement in black no. 5: Lady Meux 1881
oil on canvas
194.3 (h) x 130.2 (w) cm
Honolulu Academy of Arts, Hawaii, purchased with donations from the community and Robert Allerton Fund in 1967

Valerie Susan Langdon — the subject of this work — caused a scandal in 1878 when she married in secret Henry Meux, the heir to a brewery fortune. Valerie said she was an actress before her marriage, but many suggested she had worked under another name at a dance hall frequented by prostitutes. In a bid to gain his wife a place in polite Victorian society, Henry bought Lady Meux the diamonds that Whistler portrayed her wearing in this painting. However, neither the jewels nor her Egyptian antiquities collection could gain her the position that she desired.

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