John Singer Sargent
Villa Torlonia: Fountain 1907 
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In a Gondola (Jane de Glehn) 
The Fountain, Villa Torlonia, Frascati, Italy 
John Singer Sargent -- American painter 
Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois
Oil on canvas  
72.4 x 55.9 cm (28 1/2  x 22 in.) 
Signed, lower left: "John S. Sargent"
Friends of American Art Collection, 1914.57
Jpg: Local / ArtInstituteofChicago
(Click on image to Step Closer)
Jane de Glehn (1873-1961) painting with her husband Wilfrid (1870-1951) at the Fountain at Villa Torlonia in Frascati, Italy. 

Wilfrid de Glehn 
Fountain Frascati 

Married in 1904, both were often traveling companions of John's between 1905 and 1914 when they all would visit such places as the south of France, Spain, places in Italy -- Venice and the Alps. Both were accomplished painters in their own right, and all three depicted each other often in their paintings on these trips. 

Jane wrote in a letter to a friend; "He [Sargent] has struck Wilfred in looking at my sketch with rather a contemptuous expression as much as to say 'Can you do plain sewing any better?'.........Wilfried is in shirt sleeves, very idle and good for nothing and our heads come against the great panache of the fountain. 

John had actually met them separately and although maybe not directly, he played an  overall magnetic force to the two which brought them together.  

Jane Erin Emmet de Glehn (1873-1961) 

Jane was born Jane Erin Emmet. An American of Irish decent, her father could trace the family  back to the same family of the “Bold” Robert Emmet. She was also a cousin of the novelist Henry James.  Jane was the youngest of three very talented sisters, all who  became artists of some note: Rosina Emmet Sherwood (1854-1948), Lydia Field Emmet (1866-1952), and then Jane (1873-1961). 

Jane's education followed the proven path of her older siblings --- studying at New York’s Art Students League first before traveling through Europe to see the paintings of the Grand Masters and then further training in Parisian ateliers. The first two sisters moved back to New York and worked under William Merritt Chase at his 10th Street Studio and became involved with his ground-breaking art school at Shinnecock, Long Island. 

The exact itinerary of the three with dates is yet unclear to me, but Jane was significantly younger (19 years separated her to the oldest sister, and 7 years between her middle sister). She would have found herself in New York on the first leg of her journey after her older sisters were well established. 

Through her sisters or possibly as a student at the New York’s Art Students League, she met Sargent as late as 1890 when she was only 17. I can clearly put her in attendance at party given by Sargent at Chases' 10th street studio that year when John hired Carmencita to perform by bringing to life his famous  painting of El Jaleo.  

Wilfrid Gabriel de Glehn (1870-1951) 

Wilfreid de Glehn, on the other hand, an Englishman born at Sydenham, London, first  met John at Morgan Hall, after Edwin Austin Abbey hired him, along with another student, to assist the two artists in their joint Boston Public Library mural projects. 

Wilfred had recently completed his studies at the Ecole des Beaux Art in Paris which had followed studies at the South Kensington School of Art (c.1889).  It was a chance for him to apprentice directly under two active artists. Though his work was really more with Abbey than Sargent, they all worked in close proximity and the friendship formed between Wilfred and John would prove to be close and lasting. Wilfred arrived at Morgan Hall in the latter part of '90 or early 91 and work on the murals would last until 1893. 

Wilfred would exhibit his own work first in Rome in 1894 and then in Paris the following year ('95) when he also became Associetaire of the Société des Artistes Français. His first showing at Royal Acadame followed in '96. By 1900 he joined the NEAC 

His first visit to Cornwall came in 1901. 

When Wilfrid Met Jane 

When he first met his wife is still a little vague to me. Some sources put Wilfred in Boston in 1903 (after helping Sargent on in his Boston mural instillation of that year). Other sources, I think more creditable, put Jane in London visiting friends. 

In either case, the two were married the following year (1904) and honeymooned in Cornwall, later visiting Paris and Venice. The two took residence in London. Because of medical reasons Jane was unable to have children so the two adopted a nomadic lifestyle traveling extensively between 1905 and 1914 -- accompanying Sargent on his trips throughout Europe, and when he wasn't with them, on their own through America.  

When the war brought an end to that way of life, the two joined the British Red Cross staff, in France, in 1915. On their return to England the following year he was commissioned in the Artists’ Rifles and seconded to the Front in Italy in 1917. 

Born Wilfrid Von Glehn, the two changed their name to De Glehn in 1917 following the lead of the British Royal family which shed it Germanic roots as a result of the war.  

After the war they returned to England and Wilfred held a solo exhibition at the Leicester Galleries and another solo show in New York in 1920. For the next decade the two would spend summers in Cornwall and winters in France. 

Wilfred was elected ARA in 1923 and RA in 1932. The family moved to Wiltshire in 1942 where he died in 1951. 

Wilfrid de Glehn is one of the few English Impressionists. Jane, apparently, didn't publicly exhibit her work -- that I can tell --  but the two undoubtedly were strongly influenced by John Singer Sargent's style. They were the personification of that Anglo-American art circle which floated around Sargent and the two were friends with painters Frank D. Millet and J. Alden Weir, architects Stanford White and Charles McKim, the collector Isabella Stewart Gardner, and the novelist Edith Wharton. 

From: john debruyne
jde bruyne_ anst
Date: Sat, 16 Oct 2004

My great uncle was Wilfred de Glehn but may I first add my admiration for your website? What a treat and what an important repository and unlike all the coffee- table books it is alive and growing.

I am writing a book on my family and I am very keen to find out more but I have no proprietorial  feeling about any of my biographical information, and as you requested, here is a start:

Wilfred Gabriel de Glehn's father, my great grandfather, was Alexander von Glehn -- one of twelve children of Robert von Glehn. A rather romantic Baltic German baron. My girlfriend who lives in San Francisco and I visited the von Glehn castle just outside Tallin in Estonia this summer. The uncle Nikolai von Glehn was a manic sculptor in the mold of Gaudi. One of Robert's other sons was Oswald von Glehn a high Victorian classical painter and friend of Rosetti etc.

In spite of the German name of Alexander von Glehn's four grand parents three were Scottish. I have a portrait by Henry Raeburn of Robert von Glehn's mother-in-law who was a miss Melville.

When I was a child I used to sit beside "Uncle Willie" and watch him paint. I exasperated him by being chiefly interested in how I should sign my name at the bottom of the picture which I did before I put any paint down. And he talked to me as if I were an adult. He had no children of his own which is how I ended up with much of his studio and his letters. 

Sargent always called him Premp and (this is dangerous territory) I think he was possibly romantically keen on his young protégé. When Willie married Jane Emmet he sulked for some months and only finally gave him a wedding present (A secretaire antique desk with a Lowestoft china dining set which I still have) some six months after the wedding. Eventually he came to value Jane who was a capable American matriarch of the type he appreciated. He liked tough women. 

Just like Henry James who was a friend and cousin of Jane's so my late mother also knew Sargent well. She looked after him when he was elderly and visited Cornwall. One conversation she had was how much she loved Sargent's Frascati fountain picture [which you have above]. Sargent replied, "Yes I know I should have given it to Will and Jane but I didn't think at the time that they liked it very much." The odd pose of Willie lounging beside Jane was an afterthought. "Stay there Premp.You look like her gigalo, I'll paint you in." Uncle Willie said it was agony after a while because the stone balustrade cut into his back.

I have the picture of the fountain that Willie was paintingWe have many of the stereo photographs which Sargent took on his travels. I also have a lovely portrait of my late mother which won a prize at the RA for Willie. One story about that was that during the sitting at the studio, Sargent dropped by to take Willie out to lunch. "It is so hard to get the likeness when it is of your own family," Willie complained. 

Sargent looked hard at the portrait. "Elma has one eye higher than the other. Look... . " He took the palette and repainted one lower. " can we go to lunch?" 

When my mother turned up at Colnagi the Bond Street dealers to see her painting the doorman said "Elma, do come in." She was startled being only seventeen. "How do you know me?" she enquired. "I recognized you, of course!" Just inside the door her portrait was being shown on an easel stand.

Hope some of the above is of interest.

John de Bruyne



John Singer Sargent, An Exhibition -- Whitney Museum, NY & The Art Institute of Chicago 1986-1987

1) Robert Emmet (1778-1803) helped plan and lead an uprising in Dublin in 1803. Forced to act early because of an explosion at one of the arms depots, the uprising disintegrated into chaos. Wearing a green and white uniform Emmet and a small troop marched on Dublin Castle, killing the Lord Chief Justice on the way. He fled, hoping to escape to America with his fiancé Sarah Curran. He was captured and hung.  

At his trial Emmet requested that no epitaph be written for him until Ireland took her place among the nations of the earth.  

Works by Wilfrid de Glehn 
Sargent and Jane de Glehn
 Sketching in a Gondola 
Fountain Frascati
The Thames at Dusk

The Thames at Dusk

Courtyard in Granada, Spain
 Portrait of Clare Collins
Jane Emmett
(Niece of artist's wife)
The Artists' Home at Stratford, 
Tony Wiltshire, UK
Created 4/30/2002