Though I’ve never had the chance to see the original in person (it’s not always on display), I’ve admired this portrait of Mrs. Walter Rathbone Bacon (née Virginia Purdy) by Anders Zorn in the high-resolution images on the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s website.
The Met’s description of the painting is brief, and mentions that both John Singer Sargent and James McNeil Whistler admired the portrait at the Paris Salon, where it was displayed in 1897.
According to Greg Cook, writing for WBUR’s The Artery, there is a backstory. The sitter’s husband apparently challenged Zorn — a contemporary of Sargent who competed, to some extent, for the same well-to-do clientele — to paint a better portrait of his wife than the one done by Sargent the year before (images above, bottom).
Cook’s article indicates that, as described in Zorn’s memoirs, Sargent acknowledged that Zorn had outdone him.
Granted, the portrait by Sargent, though very nice, is not one of his more outstanding works (for other examples see my posts here and here); however, by any measure, the portrait by Zorn is striking.
(Unfortunately, though the Zorn painting is viewable in high-resolution on the Met’s website, I don’t know of a source for a large image of the Sargent painting, the original of which is in the collection of the Biltmore Estate.)
I’m not suggesting Zorn is a better painter than Sargent (as much as I like both, I hold Sargent in higher regard) — just pointing out an interesting case in which two “masters of the loaded brush” painted the same sitter.