Jean Strouse, Director of the Dorothy and Lewis B. ­Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York 
Public Library and the author of Alice James, A Biography and Morgan: American Financier, is writing a book about John Singer Sargent’s twelve portraits of the Asher Wertheimer family.


Sargent & His People

John Singer Sargent: Dr. Pozzi at Home, 1881

Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends

an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, London, February 12–May 25, 2015; and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, June 30–October 4, 2015
At the age of fifty-one, with his work in high demand on both sides of the Atlantic, John Singer Sargent swore off painting portraits. He had been eager for some time to escape the confines of the studio, the pressures of multiple sittings, and society portraiture altogether. “No more paughtraits,” he wrote to a friend in 1907. “I abhor and abjure them and hope never to do another especially of the Upper Classes.”

Why Did Isabel Go Back?

Henry James and the sculptor Hendrik Andersen in Andersen’s studio, Rome, 1907

Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece

by Michael Gorra
Henry James moved to London in 1875, at age thirty-two, and wrote to his family on arriving: “I take possession of the old world—I inhale it—I appropriate it!” He stayed for the rest of his life, and made the American encounter with Europe one of his major themes. And on a spring day in Florence, in 1880, he began to write The Portrait of a Lady—one of his greatest novels, and certainly his most popular.

Triumph at Heart’s Content

A Thread Across the Ocean: The Heroic Story of the Transatlantic Cable

by John Steele Gordon
On August 6, 1858, the day after teams of men organized by the American entrepreneur Cyrus W. Field finished laying two thousand miles of copper telegraph cable on the floor of the Atlantic between Britain and North America, the lead article in the London Times proclaimed that not since “the …

James’s Last Bow

Reviewing a new novel by Henry James on October 5, 1911, the Times Liter-ary Supplement announced: “And now comes ‘The Outcry’ to astonish [James’s] admirers with the phenomenon of a positively exciting plot. We venture to add also, a plot almost excessively ‘up-to-date.'” That the reviewer so heralded the plot …

J.P. Morgan’s Last Romance

In the summer of 1911 the financier J. Pierpont Morgan was seventy-four years old and semi-retired. He had spent his professional career raising capital (largely in Europe at first) to build American railroads and industrial corporations. He also served as America’s unofficial central banker, trying to stabilize the chaotic US …

Working Woman

Alice Hamilton: A Life in Letters

by Barbara Sicherman
Returning from Europe to America for a long visit in 1905, Henry James found the predominance of women “the sentence written largest in the American sky.” James meant social and cultural predominance, but a quick look at the names of some women born between 1860 and 1880, who were coming …