Helen Sears

Helen Sears

John Singer Sargent


Oil on canvas

167.3 x 91.4 cm (65 7/8 x 36 in.)

Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (55.1116)

Gift of Mrs. J. D. Cameron Bradley

MFA commentary

“Helen Sears was one of two portraits Sargent completed in 1895 when he traveled to Boston to install his first murals at the Boston Public Library. Six-year-old Helen was the daughter of Sargent’s friend Sarah Choate Sears, an accomplished photographer, painter, and art patron. Sargent’s high viewpoint and tilted perspective serve to silhouette Helen against the dark red carpet, and the creamy tones of her dress and bright illumination of her face lend her an air of childhood innocence, belied in part by her wistful mood as she stares solemnly into the distance.” Helen had posed for another portrait by Abbott H. Thayer three years earlier (1891–92, Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio) and was a frequent subject of her mother’s photographs. [Continued below]

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  • Child’s face
  • Hands and flowers