John Singer Sargent

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9781572153417: John Singer Sargent

John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) was the most sought after society portrait painter of his era with his glamorous style influenced by Velazquez and the Impressionists. Though best known for his grand scale works in oil, he was also a highly skilled water colorist.

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Review:

John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), the famous portrait painter, spent his childhood traveling around Europe with his American expatriate parents. After studying at Paris's Ecole des Beaux Arts, he launched his career at the Paris Salon. But scandal ensued after he exhibited his most famous portrait, Madame X. The daring (at the time) picture of a beautiful socialite in a provocative dress, her shoulder strap slipping off, created such a stir among its viewers that Sargent eventually repainted the strap into a more proper position and relocated to London. There he continued portrait painting. Creating lush images full of light and incredible brushwork, "[He] breathed new life into the tradition of grand manner portraiture. Like his great predecessors he made his sitters look nobler, more beautiful than they were in reality.... What Sargent brought to the tradition that was new and different was his ability to infuse into his portraits a sense of the immediate and the actual, as if what we see before us is life unfolding as it really is." In 1907, the portraitist abandoned the craft and focused primarily on mural commissions, like the one for the Boston Public Library, and landscape painting.

This book, the catalog to a traveling exhibition that hits the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, among other venues, includes three essays on Sargent's life and work and detailed background information for all the paintings shown. It is a manageable 285 pages, with 171 color and 85 black-and-white images. --Jennifer Cohen

From the Publisher:

The remarkable portraits for which John Singer Sargent is most famous are only one aspect of a career that included landscapes, watercolors, figure subjects, and murals. Even within portraiture, his style ranged from bold experiments to studied formality. And the subjects of his paintings were as varied as his styles, including the leaders of fashionable society, rural laborers, city streets, remote mountains, and the front lines of World War I. This book surveys and evaluates the extraordinary range of Sargent's work, and reproduces 155 of his paintings in color. It accompanies a spectacular international exhibition - the first major retrospective of the artist's career since the memorial exhibitions that followed his death. Richard Ormond presents a biographical sketch and, in a second essay, reviews Sargent's development as an artist. Mary Crowford Volk explores his thirty-year involvement with painting murals - in particular the works at the Boston Public Library and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts that Sargent regarded as his greatest achievement.

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