Joseph Pulitzer and The World

Joseph Pulitzer & Family > Family Portraits

John Singer Sargent

Reproduction of Portrait of Joseph Pulitzer  

London, June 1905

Private Collection, by permission

Photography: Jean Paul Torno

As reported by Norman Thwaites, one of Pulitzer’s most trusted secretaries, “For three sittings, Pulitzer behaved with singular sweetness.” But on the fourth visit, when he was followed into the studio by someone wanting an appointment with him, Pulitzer shouted “Tell him to go away. A look of fury and impatience entirely changed the face of the subject, and Sargent contemplated the scene with keen interest, while making a dab or two on the canvas.”

In the end, Thwaites thought, Sargent captured Pulitzer’s dual personalities “Hide, with a sheet of paper, one-half of the face and you have a benevolent middle-aged gentleman. Observe, now, the other half, and you have the malevolent, sinister and cruel expression of a Mephisto. Unconsciously, the painter had presented what he saw.”

John Singer Sargent

Autograph letter, signed, to Joseph Pulitzer  

London, May 18, 1905

Pulitzer Papers, Box 3

In this letter, John Singer Sargent thanks Pulitzer for his check for one thousand guineas (£1050) in payment for the portrait of Kate Pulitzer that he had painted earlier in the year. A full length portrait, for many years after her death, the painting was moved each summer with the family of Joseph Pulitzer, Jr. to their summer home in Bar Harbor, Maine. For the remainder of the year, it hung in their St. Louis home with the portrait of Joseph Pulitzer, shown above.

Gift of Joseph Pulitzer, Jr.


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