John Singer Sargent’s ‘Portrait of a Lady’ to hang at Deering Library following restoration

Fathma Rahman, Assistant Campus Editor

An early 20th-century oil painting by John Singer Sargent will be on display at Northwestern University Libraries following the recent completion of its restoration through a $9,000 grant from The Alumnae of Northwestern University.

There will be a special viewing event of the painting, titled “Portrait of a Lady,” from May 5 to 19 at Deering Library in the third floor reading room of the Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections, according to a news release.

The painting is considered to be Sargent’s most famous work and was acquired by Charles Deering in an auction. His family donated it to Deering Library in 1956.

The painting once hung at the library but was taken down and placed in climate-controlled storage to protect it from deterioration, the release said. The grant allowed for its restoration with the removal of a yellowed varnish layer on the painting, a synthetic resin varnish and an ultraviolet-resistant acrylic glazing placed between the painting and frame.

“Removal of the yellowed varnish has significantly improved the tonal qualities of the painting and allows for closer examination of Sargent’s brushwork and creative use of color,” Scott Devine, the Marie A. Quinlan Director of Preservation and Conservation at University Libraries, said in the release. “The painting, which is one of Sargent’s last large-scale society portraits, can now be studied and fully appreciated for the way in which it references Sargent’s earlier works.”

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