This portrait was unique -- not entirely -- but among many. Sargent had asked Alice's parents for permission to paint her, he wasn't asked. John had been executing a commission for her father, the lawyer and newspaper publisher Elliott Fitch Shepard when they met. She was only thirteen at the time and was recovering from a riding accident. Her mother, whom was the subject of the original commission agreed on the condition that Sargent wouldn't tire her out with long sittings.
As he had done in some of
works, the face here is thinly and delicately painted to reveal her
countenance with her blouse and jacket in a slightly more bravura