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John Singer Sargent – a review

John Singer Sargent, son of an American doctor, was born in Florence in 1856. He studied painting in Italy and France and in 1884 caused a sensation at the Paris Salon with his painting of Madame Gautreau.

Sargent made several visits to the USA where as well as portraits he worked on a series of decorative paintings for public buildings such as the Boston Public Library (1890) and the Museum of Fine Arts (1916).”

All'-Ave-Maria John Singer Sargent

All'-Ave-Maria John Singer Sargent

In 1879, Sargent painted a portrait of Carolus-Duran; the virtuoso effort met with public approval, and announced the direction his mature work would take. Its showing at the Paris Salon was both a tribute to his teacher and an advertisement for portrait commissions. Of Sargent’s early work, Henry James wrote that the artist offered ‘the slightly “uncanny” spectacle of a talent which on the very threshold of its career has nothing more to learn’.

Spanish-Fountain John Singer Sargent

Spanish-Fountain John Singer Sargent

Artworks

Sargent’s best portraits reveal the individuality and personality of the sitters; his most ardent admirers think he is matched in this only by Velázquez, who was one of Sargent’s great influences. The Spanish master’s spell is apparent in Sargent’s The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit, 1882, a haunting interior which echoes Velázquez’ Las Meninas.

During the greater part of Sargent’s career, he created roughly 900 oil paintings and more than 2,000 watercolors, as well as countless sketches and charcoal drawings. His oeuvre documents worldwide travel, from Venice to the Tyrol, Corfu, Montana and Florida, and each destination offered pictorial treasure.

Sargent is usually not thought of as an Impressionist painter, but he sometimes used impressionistic techniques to great effect, and his Claude Monet Painting at the Edge of a Wood is rendered in his own version of the impressionist style.

Many of his most important works are in museums in the U.S.; in 1909 he exhibited eighty-six watercolours in New York City, eighty-three of which were bought by the Brooklyn Museum.

In a Levantine Port John Singer Sargent

In a Levantine Port John Singer Sargent

His watercolors, often of landscapes documenting his travels (Santa Maria della Salute, 1904, Brooklyn Museum of Art), were executed with a joyful fluidness. In watercolors and oils he portrayed his friends and family dressed in Orientalist costume, relaxing in brightly lit landscapes that allowed for a more vivid palette and experimental handling than did his commissions (The Chess Game, 1906).

Among the artists with whom Sargent associated were Dennis Miller Bunker, Carroll Beckwith, Edwin Austin Abbey (who also worked on the Boston Public Library murals), Francis David Millet, Wilfrid de Glehn, Jane Emmet de Glehn and Claude Monet, whom Sargent painted. Sargent developed a life-long friendship with fellow painter Paul César Helleu, whom he met in Paris in 1878 when Sargent was 22 and Helleu was 18.

Under The Rialto Bridge John Singer Sargent

Under The Rialto Bridge John Singer Sargent

Both information and paintings are courtesy of  http://www.johnsingersargent.org

We strongly recommend to visist www.johnsingersargent.org for a complete review of his biography and the complete works collection

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