Amon Carter print details

Alice Vanderbilt Shepard

John Singer Sargent (1856-1925)

Object Details

  • Date

    1888

  • Object Type

    Paintings

  • Medium

    Oil on canvas

  • Dimensions

    22 x 30 1/8 in.

  • Inscriptions

    Recto:

    signed u.l.: John S. Sargent

    dated u.r.: 1888

  • Credit Line

    Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas

  • Accession Number

    1999.20

  • Copyright

    Public domain

Object Description

For Sargent, who lived his life largely abroad, encountering the highly educated American thirteen-year-old, Alice Shepard, was a new experience. According to family lore, she captivated Sargent with her beauty, intelligence, and especially her ability to converse fluently in French. Whether by design or circumstance, Sargent portrays her here in her fashionable, military-style walking suit, then considered proper public attire for a young woman as it masked her femininity.

Additional details

Location: On view
W28-artist-CMYK-CarterBlack
See more by John Singer Sargent

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Educator Resources
  • What is the purpose of a portrait?

    How has the purpose, media, and style of portraits changed and/or stayed the same throughout time?

    How might an artist choose who to create a portrait of?

    How might the background, clothes, facial expression, and body language depicted in a portrait reveal something about the sitter?

    How can artworks tell us about a culture or society?

    How might a viewer’s identity influence how they see a portrait?

  • As you look at this portrait, describe this person. Try to stick to observations of what can be seen and not draw conclusions right away.

    Notice the face, the clothes, the hair, the background. What could those things tell us about the person we are observing? What mood do you think she is expressing through her facial features and body language?

    How old do you think this person might be?

    Try to sit in the same way this person is sitting. How long can you stay in that one place without moving? Often, sitters for portraits had to sit trying to stay very still for hours. Out of concern for Alice, her mother set limits for how long each painting session could last.

    When do you get your portrait taken? What do you wear for your portrait? What is it like to pose and wait for the photograph to be taken? How are these types of portraits different from self-portraits or selfies that you take on your own? How does your clothing, background, or expression change in a selfie compared to a more formal portrait?

  • Grades 4–8

    Have students write a brief narrative about spending an afternoon with Alice in the late 1800s. What things might they do and see together? What might Alice experience if she came to school and spent an afternoon with students today?

    Grades 6–8

    Have the students draw a portrait of themselves. It can be a portrait like Alice’s or a profile. Use colored pencils, crayons, or paint. We do not know anything about Alice just looking at her portrait. Have the students write words and phrases around their portraits to describe themselves, then share them with their classmates.

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