John Singer Sargent, Mrs. Cazalet and Children Edward & Victor, 1900–01, Oil on canvas, 100 x 65 in., Promised gift of Barbra Streisand in honor of the 50th anniversary of Los Angeles’ eminent LACMA museum.
(Los Angeles, May 28, 2015)—The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is pleased to announce a bequest commitment of a major painting from Barbra Streisand—a stunning 1900–1901 portrait, Mrs. Cazalet and Children Edward & Victor, by American artist John Singer Sargent. The bequest is being made in honor of LACMA’s 50th anniversary in 2015.
“Barbra Streisand’s wonderful gift will add depth to an already strong collection of American art from the late 19th and early 20th centuries,” said Michael Govan, LACMA CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director. “Future generations will benefit greatly from seeing Mrs. Cazalet and Children alongside other great American works in our collection by turn-of-the-20th-century icons George Bellows, Mary Cassatt, and Thomas Eakins.”
“Barbra has been a great supporter of the museum over the years, particularly as a trustee from 2007 to 2014,” said Andy Brandon-Gordon, co-chair of LACMA’s board of trustees. “Ms. Streisand has generously lent LACMA other major American works in the past, including a painting by Edward Hopper. The Sargent painting is a fantastic gift and a demonstration of Barbra’s continued love and support of the arts.”
“Barbra’s gift is sure to become an icon for LACMA, a real ‘postcard’ picture. This is a boon for the museum in its anniversary year,” said Lynda Resnick, chair of LACMA’s Acquisitions Committee and co-chair of the museum’s 50th Anniversary Gifts of Art campaign. Her fellow trustee and campaign chair, Jane Nathanson, added, “Barbra Streisand has not just made a gift to LACMA, she’s made a gift to Los Angeles.”
“When I approached the museum with the gift of my beautiful Sargent painting,” said Ms. Streisand, “I was asked to make it part of this campaign to build the collection which celebrates LACMA’s 50th, and I was thrilled to be part of this larger effort. I love this painting and am delighted to have found it a great home where it can be studied and enjoyed by everyone.
“ I had noticed that LACMA had only one Sargent. He’s one of the most gifted and well-known American painters, and I thought LACMA was such a perfect home for Mrs. Cazalet and her children since it is a piece that needs breadth and space. It needs to be displayed on a museum wall, and LACMA fits the bill. “
Explaining her own particular passion for the works of American artists, Ms. Streisand noted, “The 1992 Clinton election was a turning point for America. We were so proud that he won, and my visit to the White House, during his inauguration, inspired me and drew me to collecting 18 th and 19 th century American furniture, and art as a way to celebrate my love for this country. It was a time of special optimism and I wanted to grace my walls with those painters America had given to the world. John Singer Sargent painted Mrs. Cazalet about a century before I acquired it, and it showed so beautifully why he had elevated Europe’s respect for American painting.
“I expressed all of this in my book, My Passion For Design, which captures my affection for Americana . It presents the formal American art and furniture I love, as well as an informal guest house, which I decorated with American folk art. The barn, on the property, was also built to express my love for New England architecture.”
Painted by Sargent in England during the last year of Queen Victoria’s remarkable and lengthy reign of economic progress and empire building, this striking depiction of Mrs. Cazalet and Children Edward & Victor represents the height of society portraiture. Commissioned by the family as a companion to the portrait of her husband William Marshall Cazalet, now in a private collection, the pair of paintings decorated their country home Fairlawne in Kent, and became part of the British tradition of landed gentry memorializing family predecessors by installing their portraits throughout the public rooms of their grand mansions.
“Sargent was extremely popular with the British ruling class as he captured in his Grand Manner portraits the opulence of British upper-class life,” said Dr. Ilene Susan Fort, senior curator and the Gail and John Liebes Curator of American Art at LACMA. “His use of large-scale canvases, bravura brushwork, dramatic drapery, and dazzling colors, can all be seen in his depiction of Maud Lucia Cazalet and her two sons.”
John Singer Sargent was born in 1856 and was a descendant of one of the oldest colonial families. During his youth, he traveled widely throughout Europe and received his first systematic art instruction in Florence before continuing his tuition in Paris in 1874. One of the best-known American artists, he is most famous for his Grand Manner portraits that epitomize the elegance and glamour of intellectual high society at the end of the 19th century.
The painting will eventually be hung at LACMA with two other major works and American full-length portraits: Sargent’s Portrait of Mrs. Edward L. Davis and Her Son, Livingston Davis, and another promised gift of former trustee Abby Levy and her husband, Alan, Robert Henri’s 1904 Spanish Dancer—Seviliana (Dancer with Castanet).