de Wentworth, Cecile 1853-1933 American Portrait of a Lady.
de Wentworth, Cecile 1853-1933 American Portrait of a Lady. 48 x 36 ins., (122 x 91.5 cms.), Oil on Canvas, Signed and Dated 1903
Cecile de Wentworth was actually Cecily Smith, but changed her painting name to Cecile de Wentworth when she married Josiah Wentworth in 1889. She trained in Paris and became a very well recognised portrait painter. For a woman of the time she painted some of the most distinguished people, Pope Leo XIII, who made her Grand Commander of the Holy Sepulchre. She painted the portraits of two American Presidents, Taft and Theodore Roosevelt, Queen Alexandra of England, General Pershing and Charles Joseph Bonaparte, the Attorney General. She received one of France's highest honours, the Chevalier de la Legion. Her work has been acquired by many museums, such as the Metropolitan Museum, New York,The Luxembourg Museum, Paris and the Vatican Museum Rome. Her work hardly ever comes up for sale at auction.
Recently information has come to light to discover the identity of the sitter. Our client's parents moved from Devon to a house/small hotel in Oxford Square. The building and others near it were bought by the church commissioners, who asked everyone in the buildings to leave, but take whatever they wanted from the house. Our portrait was hanging in the house, where it was known as the Grenville portrait. Our client as a young man asked his parents if he could have the painting, which he was given. It was thought at the time the sitter was Esther Grenville, a member of the distinguished Grenville family.
When we are considering the achievements of a woman artist in the very early twentieth century, it is quite remarkable what Cecile achieved. She must have been considered as a very important artist, possibly the most important female artist of her time. Yet today her work is not known because her more important paintings never come up for sale. It is surprising indeed at a time women have become so much more assertive about their status and needs, Cecile has not gained great fame. After all, at a difficult time for women painters, she must have been regarded as one of the best painter of portraits in the world. We are indeed fortunate to offer for sale this terrific quality portrait of a lady by Cecile de Wentworth.
Auction Date: July 2019