For more than 100 years, John Singer Sargent's portrait of part-time Palm Beacher Joseph Jefferson has graced the walls of The Players club in New York.
The painting, which is signed by the artist and dated 1890, was a gift to the club from Edwin Booth, its founding president, and Lawrence Barrett. Jefferson followed Booth as president.
The work portrays the comedian, one of the greatest actors of his age, as Dr. Pangloss in the comedy The Heir at Law.
Now the private club wants to sell the portrait "for financial reasons," said Raymond Wemmlinger, curator and librarian for the Players Foundation for Theatre Education. The asking price is $2.2 million.
"Jefferson apparently loved Palm Beach, and we can think of no more appropriate new home for this splendid work of art," Wemmlinger said in an email to the Palm Beach Daily News.
Jefferson spent winters in Palm Beach during the last years of his life. While here, he enjoyed the company of his good friend Henry Flagler, as well as gardening, painting and fishing.
When he died in Palm Beach in 1905, shops and schools closed, and his praises were sung at Town Hall.
The club offered to sell the painting to the Norton Museum of Art and the Flagler Museum. The Norton isn't interested, spokesman Scott Benarde said.
John Blades, the Flagler Museum's executive director, said "we'd love to have the painting. But although it's reasonably priced for a Sargent, unless a donor comes up with the money, we could not afford it."