Charles Julian Theodore Tharp
English, 1878 - 1951
Madame Wellington Koo née Hui-Lan “Juliana” Oei (1899 – 1992
Oil on canvas,
197cm by 100 cm
Signed and dated lower left ‘Charles Tharp 1921’
This painting depicts a life-sized portrait of Madame Wellington Koo, who was the second wife of the Chinese diplomat and politician, Vi Kyuin Wellington Koo (1887-1985).
Tharp most probably painted this portrait on the occasion of the Wellington Koo’s attendance of ‘The State Ball at Buckingham Palace’ on 7th July 1921. Her court dress was described in The Times as “…cream brocaded velvet with a narrow train edged with trails of flame-coloured tulle. Her closely fitting, draped corsage of gold tissue was ornamented with diamante trimming and a cluster of green and crystal was fastened at the waist…”. Her evening dress was also illustrated on the front page of the fashion magazine: The Queen, 20.08.1921.
The archives of the London photo studio “The Lafayette Studio” have preserved several photographs of Madame Wellington Koo wearing a dress identical to the one in the portrait by Tharp. Her pose evokes the same atmosphere as the current portrait does.
Hui-Lan ‘Juliana’ Oei was one of the forty-two acknowledged children of the sugar magnate Oei Tiong-Ham, the ‘Sugar King’ of Java. She wrote two memoirs: Hui-Lan Koo: An Autobiography, written with Mary Van Rensselaer Thayer, Dial Press, 1945 and No Feast Lasts Forever, written with Isabella Taves, Quadrangele/The New York Times Book Co. 1975. Wellington Koo was her second husband whom she married in Brussels in 1920.
The Chinese diplomat and Politician, Vi Kyuin Wellington Koo, was born in Shanghai in 1887 and played a major role in expanding China’s relationship with the West. He is considered as the founder of the modern Chinese Foreign Service. His record of diplomatic services is impressive. Koo held the posts of Ambassador to France from 1936-1940, Great Britain until 1946 and the United States for ten years. He was one of the founding members of the United Nations. From 1956-67 he became a judge of the International Court of Justice at The Hague and served as Vice-president of the court during the final three years of his term.
Charles Julian Theodore Tharp was a portrait painter, landscape painter and sculptor. He was born in Denston, Suffolk in 1878 and died in London, 1951. He studied at the Slade and exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy, the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, the New England Arts Club, the International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers Society and the Royal West of England Academy.