John Singer Sargent

(1856-1925)

John Singer Sargent was one of America's most important expatriate artists. All of his studies were abroad at the Academy of Fine Arts in Florence (1871-72), Ecole Des Beaux Arts (1874) and privately with Leon Bonnat and Carolus-Duran. His study under Carolus-Duran, whose work was fashionable yet adventurous, was a blend of brio and tightly handled Realism that deeply affected Sargent. He became a master of bravura brushwork in oils. His portraiture, during the "Golden Age" of the late 19th and early 20th century, was in greater demand in high society than any other. Sargent's work bears stylistic affinities with his contemporaries Whistler and Boldini, who together formed a triumvirate which became highly influential on an international scale. By 1883 Sargent had hoped to expand his portrait trade but was hindered in Paris by the uproar over his painting "Portrait of Mme. X" (1884, Metropolitan). This work was an unsettlingly accurate portrayal of a notorious and exotic beauty which became rather scandalous. Therefore, Sargent moved to London in 1885 and stayed there until his death. His career had peaked in the early 1900s; he had painted over 100 portraits, earned a substantial fortune and received many prizes and awards. He turned to landscape watercolor painting for pleasure and partially to avoid further commissions. These works resulted in beautiful observations with a glimpse of the dynamism between light and color. Sargent died in 1925 in London.