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By 1900, John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) was the most admired, the most sought after portraitist in England and America. He exquisitely portrayed in oil and watercolor the spirit of the Gilded Age, and made eternal the elegance of aristocracy, the romanc
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Taped in high-definition television, the images in this hour-long documentary are superb. Produced in 2000 by the PBS affiliate station WETA, this program is based on a major touring exhibition of John Singer Sargent's work, organized by the Tate Gallery, London, in collaboration with the National Gallery of Art in Washington and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Sargent's luscious portraits and landscapes from the late 19th and early 20th century benefit greatly from the quality of the filming in this program. The details are exquisite--his rendering of fabric and costumes, of skin tones and gestures.
Born of American parents in Florence, Italy, in 1856, Sargent led the life of an expatriate, living largely in Europe, studying at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, then moving to London. In 1887, his visit to the United States as a well-known painter was a tremendous success. He was given major commissions for murals--he spent more than 30 years painting those for Boston's Museum of Fine Arts. Throughout his life, Sargent traveled extensively, driven by the need to enrich his art. At the age of 62, he became a war artist, sent by the British to the Western Front in World War I. A prolific artist, he painted over 800 portraits and 1,800 landscapes and figure paintings. This program allows a general audience, as well as art lovers and art historians, to see the breadth of Sargent's work and re-appraise his artistic merit. --Anne Barclay Morgan
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