Presented by Kaylin Weber, assistant curator, American paintings and sculpture.
Sir Philip Sassoon (1888–1939), a glamorous and well-known figure in Britain in the early 20th century, was the most eligible bachelor and the greatest host of his time. He attained prominence in the art world, high society, and politics. In contrast, his sister Sybil (1894–1989) lived a much more private life. Yet she was fascinating in her own right, marrying into the grandest level of the English aristocracy, restoring Houghton Hall—formerly the house of Sir Robert Walpole, England's first prime minister—to magnificence, and serving in the high command of the Women’s Royal Naval Service during both world wars. Among her friends was artist John Singer Sargent, who painted portraits of her and her brother Philip. It's an extraordinary story of friendship and patronage.