John Singer Sargent to Edward Robinson January 1916
My dear Ned,
. . The permission to communicate with the Museum when I have something that I think worthy of it, makes me venture to suggest to you, rather than to the Trustees, a proposition for what you may think of it. My portrait of Madamne Gaureau is now, with some other things I sent from here at the San Francisco Exhibition and now that it is in America I rather feel inclined to let it stay there if a Museum should want it. I suppose it is the best thing I have done. I would let the Metropolitan Museum have it for £ 1,000 . . . let me know your opinion . . . If Madame Gautreau should not stay in America I think she had better come back here with the rest of my things.
John S. Sargent"
(Letter to Robinson, excerpted in
Charteris' book, p. 65)
To get an idea of the offer John was making the Met, if the exchange rate was 3 dollars to the pound (which was probably high) a purchase price of $3,000 for the "greatest work he ever did" was nothing more than an outright gift, since the following year he did two full portraits of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. for $15,000 a piece.