Tuesday, 4 March 2014

John Singer Sargent - part 1

This is going to be an extremely large post on the works of painter John Singer Sargent, comprising of more than 1600 works, so I sincerely hope you find it interesting. So that it doesn't take too long I'll endeavour to post every other day. He will be familiar to many as a society portraitist, and he was very good at them too, but Sargent was also an inveterate traveller, and he recorded his travels through his work with flair and a lightness of touch.


1886 Self-Portrait 
oil on canvas 34.5 x 29.7 cm 
Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums, UK


The family of John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) had deep roots in New England. His grandfather, Winthrop Sargent IV, descended from one of the oldest colonial families, had failed in the merchant-shipping business in Gloucester, Massachusetts, and had moved his family to Philadelphia. There, his son Fitzwilliam Sargent beacme a physician and in 1850 married Mary Newbold Singer, daughter of a successful local merchant, The couple left Philadelphia for Europe in late summer 1854, seeking healthful climate and a distraction after the death a year earlier of their firstborn child. The Sargents' stay in Europe was meant to be temporary, but they became expatriates, passing winters in Florence, Rome, or Nice and summers in the Alps or other cooler regions. Their son John was born in Florence in January 1856.

Jon Sargent was given little regular schooling. As a result of his "Baedeker education," he learned Italian, French, and German. He studied geography, arithmetic, reading, and other disciplines under his father's tutelage, He also became an accomplished pianist. His mother, an amateur artist, encouraged him to draw, and her wanderlust furnished him with subjects. He enrolled for his first-documented formal art training during the winter of 1873-74 at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence. In spring 1874, Fitzwilliam Sargent resolved to nourish his son's talents in Paris, which had become the world's most powerful magnet for students.


In May 1874, Sargent entered the teaching atelier of a youthful, stylish painter, Carolus-Duran, a leading portraitist in Third Republic France who encouraged his students to paint immediately (rather than make preliminary drawings), to exploit broad planes of viscous pigment, and to preserve the freshness of the sketch in completed works. He also exhorted them to study artists who demonstrated painterly freedom: Frans Hals and Rembrandt; Sir Anthony van Dyck and Sir Joshua Reynolds; and. above all others. the Spanish master Diego Velázquez. The young American moved close to his teacher stylistically and became his protégé. There is almost no work by Sargent, beginning with his successful submissions to the Paris Salons as early as 1877, that does not reflect the manner of Carolus-Duran or the old masters of the painterly tradition.


Although Sargent painted, showed, and won praise for both portraits and subject pictures at the salons between 1877 and 1882, commissions for portraits increasingly demanded his attention and defined his reputation. Sargent's best-known portrait, Madame X, which he undertook without a commission, enlisted a palette and brushwork derived from Velázquez; a profile view that recalls Titian; and an unmodulated treatment of the face and figure inspired by the style of Édouard Manet and Japanese prints. The picture's novelty and quality notwithstanding, it was a succès de scandale in the 1884 Salon, provoking criticism for Sargent's indifference to conventions of pose, modelling, and treatment of space, even twenty years after Manet's pioneering efforts.



1883-84 Madame X ( Madame Pierre Gautreau ) 
oil on canvas 208.6 x 109.9 cm 
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Having gained notoriety rather than fame, Sargent decided that London, where he had thought of settling as early as 1882, would be more hospitable than Paris, In spring 1886, he moved to England for the rest of his life. Fearful that Sargent might sacrifice characterisation to a show of "French style," which they associated with Madame X and, perforce, disliked, English patrons at first withheld commissions. With time and creative energy to spare, Sargent spent several summers engaged in Impressionist projects. These were nourished by his contact with Monet, whom he visited several times at Giverny, beginning in early summer 1885, and by the chance to work outdoors during the summers of 1885 and 1886 in the Cotswold village of Broadway,Worcestershire.

Sargent's most ambitious Broadway canvas was the ravishing Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose (Tate Britain, London). The painting's display at the Royal Academy in 1887 assuaged the doubts of english critics, and its acquisition for the nation augured well for his career in London. Although English patrons still hesitated to sit for Sargent during the late 1880s, Americans were eager to do so during his visits to the United States between 1887 and 1889. Reassured by the conspicuous quality of Sargent's portraits, British patrons finally responded with numerous commissions during the 1890s. While his subjects included businessmen and their families, artists, and performers, Sargent flourished particularly as a purveyor of likenesses to the English aristocracy. He maintained a dialogue with tradition, creating grand-manner pendants to family heirlooms by van Dyck, Reynolds, and others. American patrons also continued to call upon Sargent's skills.



1885-86 Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose 
oil on canvas 174 x 153.7 cm 
Tate, London

After a turn of the century, Sargent grew tired of the demands of portrait painting. He was constantly preoccupied with mural paintings for the Boston Public Library, Boston;s Museum of Fine Arts, and the Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library at Harvard University, for which he had received a series of commissions beginning in 1890. Travel studies in watercolour also came to occupy more of his time and became a new source of critical and financial support. Beginning in 1903, he showed such pictures to acclaim in London and New York, stimulating a great demand for them. Sargent engineered his career so astutely that by 1907, when he pledged not accept any more portrait commissions, he had established a solid reputation as a watercolourist.

Biography from:
H. Barbara Weinberg "John Singer Sargent (1856-1925)". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art www.metmuseum.org

This is part-1 of a 23-part post on the works of John Singer Sargent:




1870 Merjelen See 
graphite and watercolour on wove paper 27 x 38.7 cm 
Harvard Art Museums / Fogg Museum, Cambridge, MA

1870 The Eiger from Mürren 
graphite and watercolour on paper 39 x 27.2 cm 
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

1870 The Matterhorn 
graphite and watercolour on wove paper 38.8 x 27 cm 
Harvard Art Museums / Fogg Museum, Cambridge, MA

1870-72c Thistle 
graphite and watercolour on wove paper 16.8 x 11.6 cm 
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

1870-79 Sketch of Profile of a Woman 
graphite on wove paper 16.7 x 10.1 cm 
Harvard Art Museums / Fogg Museum, Cambridge, MA

1871 Alpine Village 
graphite and watercolour on tan wove paper 10.3 x 17.2 cm 
Harvard Art Museums / Fogg Museum, Cambridge, MA

1871 Mountain Landscape, Innsbrück, Austria 
graphite, watercolour and white gouache on grey wove paper 10.3 x 17.2 cm 
Harvard Art Museums / Fogg Museum, Cambridge, MA

1871 Sketch of a Tree 
graphite on paper 38.8 x 28.8 cm 
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

1871 Tyrolean Shrine 
graphite and watercolour on wove paper 17.1 x 25.4 cm 
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

1872 Boat with Figures 
graphite on wove paper 27.1 x 36.5 cm 
Harvard Art Museums / Fogg Museum, Cambridge, MA

1872 Engelsburg 
( graphite ) 27 x 36.2 cm 
British Museum, London

1872 Hay Wagon 
graphite, watercolour and white gouache on tan wove paper 27.1 x 36.5 cm 
Harvard Art Museums / Fogg Museum, Cambridge, MA

1872 Landscape 
graphite on wove paper 27.1 x 36.5 cm 
Harvard Art Museums / Fogg Museum, Cambridge, MA

1872 Landscape 
graphite on wove paper 27.1 x 36.5 cm 
Harvard Art Museums / Fogg Museum, Cambridge, MA

1872 Mountain Landscape, Engelsburg, Germany 
graphite, brown ink and wash and white gouache on tan wove paper 27.1 x 36.5 cm 
Harvard Art Museums / Fogg Museum, Cambridge, MA

1872 Sketch of Small Boats 
graphite on wove paper 27.1 x 36.5 cm 
Harvard Art Museums / Fogg Museum, Cambridge, MA

1872c Deer 
charcoal 28.9 x 38.6 cm 
Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, MA

1874 Oscar and Bobino on the Fishing Smack 
graphite and watercolour on paper 30.2 x 41.9 cm 
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

1874 Two Wine Glasses 
oil on canvas 45.7 x 36.8 cm

1874-80 Man Wearing Laurels 
oil on canvas 44.4 x 33.4 cm 
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, CA

1875 Seascape 
oil on canvas 27.9 x 20.9 cm

1875-77c Seascape with Rocks ( aka Sea and Rock ) 
oil on canvas 43.2 x 35.6 cm 
Private Collection

1875-80c A Male Model Standing before a Stove 
oil on canvas 71.1 x 55.9 cm 
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

1875c Bartholomy Magagnosco 
graphite 25.4 x 19.7 cm 
Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA

1875c Rocky Coast 
graphite on paper 10.8 x 16.5 cm 
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

1875c St Malo 
graphite on paper 8.9 x 14.4 cm 
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

1875c Two Small Boats Moored to Beach 
graphite on paper 10 x 16.5 cm 
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

1875c Water's Edge 
graphite on paper 14 x 19.1 cm

1875c Two Octopi 
oil on canvas 40.6 x 32.1 cm 
Private Collection

1875c Violet Sargent 
oil on panel 26.7 x 23.5 cm

1876 Atlantic Storm 
oil on canvas 59.7 x 80.6 cm

1876 Deck of a Ship in Moonlight 
graphite and watercolour on paper 222.9 x 29.8 cm 
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

1876 Mid-Ocean, Mid-Winter ( aka Mid Ocean in Winter ) 
oil on canvas mounted on board 31.8 x 42 cm 
Private Collection

1876 The Artist's Mother Aboard Ship 
oil on canvas 28 x 19.8 cm 
Private Collection

1876 The Cook's Boy 
oil on cardboard mounted on board 27.6 x 19.3 cm 
Private Collection

1876-77c Atlantic Sunset 
oil on canvas 64.8 x 92 cm 
Private Collection

1876-77c Seascape 
oil on canvas 27.9 x 21 cm 
Private Collection

1876c Moonlight on Waves 
graphite on paper 9.5 x 14.9 cm 
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

1876 Frank O'Meara 
oil on canvas 44.4 x 39.4 cm 
Private Collection

1876 The Model 
graphite and watercolour on paper 27.9 x 22.9 cm 
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas

1876-78 Rehearsal of the Pasdeloup Orchestra at the Cirque d'Hiver 
oil on canvas 93 x 73 cm 
Art Institute of Chicago, IL

1879-80 Rehearsal of the Pasdeloup Orchestra at the Cirque d'Hiver 
oil on canvas 57.1 x 46 cm 
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

1876 Young Man in Reverie 
oil 76.2 x 61 cm 
Private Collection

1876c Gitana ( Gypsy ) 
oil on canvas 73.7 x 60 cm 
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

1877 Miss Frances Sherborne Ridley Watts 
oil on canvas 83.5 x 105.7 cm 
Collection of Mr and Mrs Wharton Sinkler, USA

1877 Mrs. Charles Deering 
oil on canvas 55.9 x 45.7 cm 
Colby College of Art, ME

1877-78c A Summer Idyll 
oil on cardboard 32.5 x 40.7 cm 
Brooklyn Museum, New York

1877-79c The Flight into Egypt 
oil on cardboard 44.5 x 53.5 cm 
Private Collection

1877c Emily Sargent 
oil on canvas 31.1 x 22.9 cm 
Private Collection

1877c Figure of a Child 
graphite on paper 20.6 x 13 cm 
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

1877c On the Sands 
watercolour on paper 22.5 x 29.8 cm 
Private Collection

1877c Oyster Gatherers Returning ( aka Mussel Gatherers ) 
oil on canvas 49.8 x 61.4 cm 
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO

1877c Port Scene 
oil on panel 25.3 x 34.5 cm 
Private Collection

1877c Portrait of Neville Cain and Study of Mother and Child 
graphite on wove paper 22.6 x 27.9 cm 
Harvard Art Museums / Fogg Museum, Cambridge, MA

1877c Study of a Bust at Lille 
oil on panel 30.7 x 20.6 cm 
Private Collection

1878 A Nude Boy on a Beach 
oil on wood 26.8 x 35.1 cm 
Tate, London

1878 Two Boys on a Beach, Naples 
oil on panel 25.4 x 34.3 cm 
Private Collection

1879 Neapolitan Children Bathing ( aka Innocence Abroad ) 
oil on canvas 26.7 x 41.3 cm 
Stirling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA

1878 Beach at Capri 
oil on canvas 26 x 3.9 cm 
Palace of the Legion of Honour, San Francisco, CA

1878 Boy on the Beach ( aka The Sun Bath ) 
oil on panel 19 x 29.8 cm 
Private Collection

1878 Eugene Juillerat  
oil on canvas 40.6 x 31.1 cm 
Private Collection

1878 Fishing Boats 
tempera on panel 26.4 x 35.2 cm 
Private Collection

1878 Gathering Olives 
tempera on panel 26.4 x 35.2 cm 
Private Collection

1878 Head of a Male Model 
oil on cardboard 59.7 x 49.5 cm 
Private Collection

1878 Head of a Young Man ( aka Portrait of a Sailor ) 
oil on panel 22.3 x 12.2 cm 
Private Collection

1878 Head of an Italian Girl 
oil on canvas 45.7 x 31.8 cm 
Private Collection

1878 Low Tide at Cancale Harbour 
oil on canvas 48.6 x 28.3 cm 
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

1878 Memories of Capri ( aka Ricordi di Capri ) 
oil on panel 34.5 x 26.5 cm 
Private Collection

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