Plumbago: Jane reading in the garden, Corfu,
oil on canvas, 1909
Early in September 1909 Wilfrid and Jane de Glehn joined John Singer Sargent, his sister Emily and Eliza Wedgwood at the Hotel Luna in Venice. They all travelled together to Corfu at the end of the month. After spending five nights at the Hotel St George in the town of Corfu, they found the Villa Soteriotisa four miles outside. Though the interior of the villa lacked furniture, the idyllic gardens leading down to the sea made up for many discomforts and the party returned to stay on the island in 1910. The villa’s gardens provided the setting for Sargent’s In the Garden, Corfu (formerly Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago), a well-known painting featuring Jane and Eliza Wedgwood reading together while leaning back against a whitewashed pillar surmounted by an urn of geraniums. Eliza Wedgwood later recounted, “I used to read literally for hours Trevelyan’s Garibaldi aloud to Jane de Glehn whilst John painted her in his robin’s egg blue taffeta skirt against a wall of palest blue plumbago”. Wilfrid also painted the scene, but paid at least as much attention to the play of light on the flowers and foliage as he did to the figure. Indeed, as Eliza Wedgwood noted in her journal, “the bewitching island fulfilled all the artists’ wishes”.
Corfu, oil on canvas, 1910