From left: Edith Sitwell (1887 - 1964) made a Dame of the British Empire in 1954, Sir George Sitwell, Lady Ida, Sacheverell (1897-1988), and Osbert Sitwell (1892-1969)
"From: Wendy & Gordon Hawksley
Date: 17, May, 2001
. . . A good reference about this painting is to be found in 'The Sitwells and the Arts of the 1920s and 1930s' published by National Portrait Gallery Publications in 1994 to accompany an exhibition of the same title. It states -
In the spring of 1900 Sir George [Sitwell] commissioned John Singer Sargent to paint a family group, and therefore immortalise the great patron, his beautiful aristocratic wife and the dynasty, represented by his 3 children. After exhibition at the Royal Academy where it was admired by Sergei Diaghliev among others, the painting was intended to be hung at Renishaw [Hall] as a companion to the Copley portrait. The symbolism was there for all to see: Sir George (who seldom rode) wore polished riding boots, an illusion to his sporting ancestry, while Lady Ida was the picture of the dutiful wife, elegantly arranging flowers in a silver bowl (something she would never have done; at Renishaw, as in all grand houses, the flowers were arranged by the head gardener). The family was posed against carefully chosen Sitwell heirlooms brought down from Renishaw to the artist's Chelsea studio. As the elegant projection of an image, the painting was a triumph - the dominant father, his hand resting protectively on his daughter's shoulder, the beautiful wife absorbed in her domestic task, the heir and his brother playing contentedly - but as a representation of a happy family it was pure fantasy.
Renishaw Hall is a few miles outside Sheffield, England. "