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John Singer Sargent, the Male Nudes

Esten, John; National Gallery of Art (U.S.); Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

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ISBN 10: 0789302616 / ISBN 13: 9780789302618
Published by Universe, NY, 1999
New Condition: New Hardcover
From Penobscot Books (Searsport, ME, U.S.A.)

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NEW BOOK and DJ, both in GIFT- quality MINT condition, and with new Mylar protection. // Hardcover, 79 pages, illustrated. // Price-clipped. Size: Octavo. Bookseller Inventory # 101055

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Bibliographic Details

Title: John Singer Sargent, the Male Nudes

Publisher: Universe, NY

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:New

Dust Jacket Condition: New

About this title


Published on occasion of the major Sargent retrospective traveling to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in 1999, John Singer Sargent: The Male Nudes brings to light a fascinating portion of Sargent's work long hidden from the public eye.

Beginning in his adolescence, and throughout his distinguished career, John Singer Sargent, the celebrated painter of patricians, produced a superbly rendered, uninhibited book of work that was rarely seen and never exhibited: the male nudes. Models were a significant aspect of the great painter's profession, whether they were commission-producing society "sitters" or professional models used as reference for his three Boston mural projects or works created for his private enjoyment--one young Italian model stayed in the artist's employ for nearly twenty-six years. Sargent's enduring subject was capturing the "human form divine" in portraits of the fashionable and famous and the absolute male.

Over the last century, these little-known works have been dispersed to museum archives and private collections throughout the United States and Great Britain. John Esten has unearthed the most extraordinary of these images, ranging from vibrant watercolors and oil paintings to charcoal studies, published here for the first time in a single volume.


The beauty and gentle eroticism of John Singer Sargent's paintings and drawings of nude males are the raison d'être of this otherwise somewhat slight book. Most are exquisitely languid, with such tender touches as a pink tinge on the buttocks of a boy lying prone on a beach in Capri, or two intimate "tommies"--privates in the World War I British Army--napping on a riverbank after a swim, heads together. Then there are a few nude wrestling matches, à la Eadweard Muybridge and D.H. Lawrence. And, as the author somewhat frantically insists, there are works that possess an "uplifting and spiritual aspect."

The wonder is that Sargent's sisters preserved these works--which the artist had kept private--after his death. They are thrilling, as much for Sargent's astonishing facility with a brushload of color as for the sensuous subjects. The essay may be skipped by readers who wince when informed that any subject of a society portrait by Sargent was "transformed into a fashionable denizen of the Edwardian age, whomever he was." Author John Esten sniffs prissily at the suggestion that Sargent may have harbored homoerotic feelings, while the works themselves often unabashedly focus on the genitalia of the models, and the ones that don't are filled with the kind of closeness and warmth of observation that makes the model's soft skin seem almost palpable. Linger over the book's 18 color plates, which are a lasting, luscious pleasure; the scores of black-and-white drawings are similarly inspired. --Peggy Moorman

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