The Norton Museum of Art has recently acquired John Singer Sargent’s “Portrait of Mrs. Frederick Guest (Amy Phipps),” a gift from the sitter’s grandson—and son of the iconic C.Z. Guest—Alexander M. D. C. Guest and the Guest family. Painted in 1905 during Sargent’s peak as a society portraitist, the nearly five-foot-tall work was commissioned to commemorate Phipps’ marriage to English aristocrat Frederick Edward Guest.
“This magnificent Sargent of my late grandmother Amy is not only a beautiful portrait, but an important piece of American history that will act in dialogue with The Norton’s robust collection to create a fuller picture of the American canon,” said Alexander. “My family and I are eager to share this outstanding work with art lovers from the local community and from around the world.”
Alexander’s indelible image with his mother—the iconic C.Z. Guest—and their beloved dogs poolside at his grandmother’s Palm Beach estate, Villa Artemis, was immortalized by photographer Slim Aarons in 1955. Designed in 1916 for Mr. and Mrs. Frederick E. Guest by architect F. Burrall Hoffman—who also designed Villa Vizcaya in Miami—the house was acquired by Honey and Leighton Rosenthal from the estate of Amy Phipps Guest in 1959.
After marrying, Phipps Guest developed a passion for aviation—Frederick Guest was also the former British Air Minister—and purchased a monoplane with the intention of becoming the first woman to fly solo over the Atlantic. Reluctantly, she abandoned her plan at the behest of her family, and instead passed along the torch to a young Amelia Earhart. “Mrs. Guest not only has a deep interest in aviation but great faith in women as fliers,” said a June 6, 1928 edition of The New York Times.
A private unveiling ceremony will take place at the Norton Museum in West Palm Beach attended by members of the Guest family, including Alexander’s sister and Warhol muse, Cornelia Guest.