Painter: John Singer Sargent - Part 1 - 13 paints - Bio data English y Espanol - Links

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 John Singer Sargent
A Backwater, Calcot Mill near Reading

John Singer Sargent
 A Bedouin Arab

John Singer Sargent
 A Capriote

John Singer Sargent
A Dinner Table at Night

John Singer Sargent
A Gust of Wind

John Singer Sargent (January 12, 1856 – April 14, 1925) was an American artist, considered the "leading portrait painter of his generation" for his evocations of Edwardian era luxury.[1][2] During his career, he created roughly 900 oil paintings and more than 2,000 watercolors, as well as countless sketches and charcoal drawings. His oeuvre documents worldwide travel, from Venice to the Tyrol, Corfu, the Middle East, Montana, Maine, and Florida.

His parents were American, but he was trained in Paris prior to moving to London. Sargent enjoyed international acclaim as a portrait painter, although not without controversy and some critical reservation; an early submission to the Paris Salon, his "Portrait of Madame X", was intended to consolidate his position as a society painter, but it resulted in scandal instead. From the beginning his work was characterized by remarkable technical facility, particularly in his ability to draw with a brush, which in later years inspired admiration as well as criticism for a supposed superficiality. His commissioned works were consistent with the grand manner of portraiture, while his informal studies and landscape paintings displayed a familiarity with Impressionism. In later life Sargent expressed ambivalence about the restrictions of formal portrait work, and devoted much of his energy to mural painting and working en plein air. He lived most of his life in Europe.

Early life

Before Sargent's birth, his father, FitzWilliam (b. 1820 Gloucester, Massachusetts), was an eye surgeon at the Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia 1844–1854. After John's older sister died at the age of two, his mother, Mary (née Singer), suffered a breakdown, and the couple decided to go abroad to recover. They remained nomadic expatriates for the rest of their lives.[3][4] Although based in Paris, Sargent's parents moved regularly with the seasons to the sea and the mountain resorts in France, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland. While Mary was pregnant, they stopped in Florence, Italy because of a cholera epidemic. Sargent was born there in 1856. A year later, his sister Mary was born. After her birth, FitzWilliam reluctantly resigned his post in Philadelphia and accepted his wife's entreaties to remain abroad.[5] They lived modestly on a small inheritance and savings, living a quiet life with their children. They generally avoided society and other Americans except for friends in the art world.[6] Four more children were born abroad, of whom only two lived past childhood.[7]

Although his father was a patient teacher of basic subjects, young Sargent was a rambunctious child, more interested in outdoor activities than his studies. As his father wrote home, "He is quite a close observer of animated nature."[8] His mother was quite convinced that traveling around Europe, and visiting museums and churches, would give young Sargent a satisfactory education. Several attempts to have him formally schooled failed, owing mostly to their itinerant life. Sargent's mother was a fine amateur artist and his father was a skilled medical illustrator.[9] Early on, she gave him sketchbooks and encouraged drawing excursions. Young Sargent worked with care on his drawings, and he enthusiastically copied images from The Illustrated London News of ships and made detailed sketches of landscapes.[10] FitzWilliam had hoped that his son's interest in ships and the sea might lead him toward a naval career.

At thirteen, his mother reported that John "sketches quite nicely, & has a remarkably quick and correct eye. If we could afford to give him really good lessons, he would soon be quite a little artist."[11] At the age of thirteen, he received some watercolor lessons from Carl Welsch, a German landscape painter.[12] Although his education was far from complete, Sargent grew up to be a highly literate and cosmopolitan young man, accomplished in art, music, and literature.[13] He was fluent in French, Italian, and German. At seventeen, Sargent was described as "willful, curious, determined and strong" (after his mother) yet shy, generous, and modest (after his father).[14] He was well-acquainted with many of the great masters from first hand observation, as he wrote in 1874, "I have learned in Venice to admire Tintoretto immensely and to consider him perhaps second only to Michelangelo and Titian."[15]


An attempt to study at the Academy of Florence failed as the school was re-organizing at the time, so after returning to Paris from Florence, Sargent began his art studies with Carolus-Duran. The young French portrait artist, who had a meteoric rise, was noted for his bold technique and modern teaching methods, and his influence would be pivotal to Sargent during the period from 1874 to 1878.[16]

In 1874, on the first attempt, Sargent passed the rigorous exam required to gain admission to the École des Beaux-Arts, the premier art school in France. He took drawing classes, which included anatomy and perspective, and gained a silver prize.[16][17] He also spent much time in self-study, drawing in museums and painting in a studio he shared with James Carroll Beckwith. He became both a valuable friend and Sargent's primary connection with the American artists abroad.[18] Sargent also took some lessons from Léon Bonnat.[17]

Carolus-Duran's atelier was progressive, dispensing with the traditional academic approach, which required careful drawing and underpainting, in favor of the alla prima method of working directly on the canvas with a loaded brush, derived from Diego Velázquez. It was an approach that relied on the proper placement of tones of paint.[19] This approach also permitted spontaneous flourishes of color not bound to an under-drawing. It was markedly different from the traditional atelier of Jean Léon Gérôme, where Americans Thomas Eakins and Julian Alden Weir had studied.

Sargent was the star student in short order. Weir met Sargent in 1874 and noted that Sargent was "one of the most talented fellows I have ever come across; his drawings are like the old masters, and his color is equally fine."[18] Sargent's excellent command of French and his superior talent made him both popular and admired. Through his friendship with Paul César Helleu, Sargent would meet giants of the art world, including Degas, Rodin, Monet, and Whistler.

Sargent's early enthusiasm was for landscapes, not portraiture, as evidenced by his voluminous sketches full of mountains, seascapes, and buildings.[20] Carolus-Duran's expertise in portraiture finally influenced Sargent in that direction. Commissions for history paintings were still considered more prestigious, but were much harder to get. Portrait painting, on the other hand, was the best way of promoting an art career, getting exhibited in the Salon, and gaining commissions to earn a livelihood.

Sargent's first major portrait was of his friend Fanny Watts in 1877, and was also his first Salon admission. Its particularly well-executed pose drew attention.[20] His second salon entry was the Oyster Gatherers of Cançale, an impressionistic painting of which he made two copies, one of which he sent back to the United States, and both received warm reviews.[21]

Early career

In 1879, at the age of 23, Sargent painted a portrait of teacher Carolus-Duran; the virtuoso effort met with public approval, and announced the direction his mature work would take. Its showing at the Paris Salon was both a tribute to his teacher and an advertisement for portrait commissions.[22] Of Sargent's early work, Henry James wrote that the artist offered "the slightly 'uncanny' spectacle of a talent which on the very threshold of its career has nothing more to learn."[23]

After leaving Carolus-Duran's atelier, Sargent visited Spain. There he studied the paintings of Velázquez with a passion, absorbing the master's technique, and in his travels gathered ideas for future works.[24] He was entranced with Spanish music and dance. The trip also re-awakened his own talent for music (which was nearly equal to his artistic talent), and which found visual expression in his early masterpiece El Jaleo (1882). Music would continue to play a major part in his social life as well, as he was a skillful accompanist of both amateur and professional musicians. Sargent became a strong advocate for modern composers, especially Gabriel Fauré.[25] Trips to Italy provided sketches and ideas for several Venetian street scenes genre paintings, which effectively captured gestures and postures he would find useful in later portraiture.[26]

Upon his return, Sargent quickly received several portrait commissions. His career was launched. He immediately demonstrated the concentration and stamina that enabled him to paint with workman-like steadiness for the next twenty-five years. He filled in the gaps between commissions with many non-commissioned portraits of friends and colleagues. His fine manners, perfect French, and great skill made him a standout among the newer portraitists, and his fame quickly spread. He confidently set high prices and turned down unsatisfactory sitters.[27]

                      See also: List of works by John Singer Sargent


In the early 1880s Sargent regularly exhibited portraits at the Salon, and these were mostly full-length portrayals of women, such as Madame Edouard Pailleron (1880) (done en plein-air) and Madame Ramón Subercaseaux (1881). He continued to receive positive critical notice.[28]

Sargent's best portraits reveal the individuality and personality of the sitters; his most ardent admirers think he is matched in this only by Velázquez, who was one of Sargent's great influences. The Spanish master's spell is apparent in Sargent's The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit, 1882, a haunting interior that echoes Velázquez's Las Meninas.[29] As in many of his early portraits, Sargent confidently tries different approaches with each new challenge, here employing both unusual composition and lighting to striking effect. One of his most widely exhibited and best loved works of the 1880s was The Lady with the Rose (1882), a portrait of Charlotte Burckhardt, a close friend and possible romantic attachment.[30]

His most controversial work, Portrait of Madame X (Madame Pierre Gautreau) (1884) is now considered one of his best works, and was the artist's personal favorite; he stated in 1915, "I suppose it is the best thing I have done."[31] when unveiled in Paris at the 1884 Salon, it aroused such a negative reaction that it likely prompted Sargent's move to London. Sargent's self-confidence had led him to attempt another risky experiment in portraiture—but this time it unexpectedly back-fired.[32] The painting was not commissioned by her and he pursued her for the opportunity, quite unlike most of his portrait work where clients sought him out. Sargent wrote to a mutual acquaintance:

    I have a great desire to paint her portrait and have reason to think she would allow it and is waiting for someone to propose this homage to her beauty. might tell her that I am a man of prodigious talent."[33]

It took well over a year to complete the painting.[34] The first version of the portrait of Madame Gautreau, with the famously plunging neckline, white-powdered skin, and arrogantly cocked head, featured an off-the-shoulder dress strap which made the overall effect more daring and sensual.[35] Sargent changed the strap to try to dampen the furor, but the damage had been done. French commissions dried up and he told his friend Edmund Gosse in 1885 that he contemplated giving up painting for music or business.[36]

Writing of the reaction of visitors, Judith Gautier observed:

    Is it a woman? a chimera, the figure of a unicorn rearing as on a heraldic coat of arms or perhaps the work of some oriental decorative artist to whom the human form is forbidden and who, wishing to be reminded of woman, has drawn the delicious arabesque? No, it is none of these things, but rather the precise image of a modern woman scrupulously drawn by a painter who is a master of his art."[37]

Prior to the Madame X scandal of 1884, Sargent had painted exotic beauties such as Rosina Ferrara of Capri, and the Spanish expatriate model Carmela Bertagna, but the earlier pictures had not been intended for broad public reception. Sargent kept the painting prominently displayed in his London studio until he sold it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1916, a few months after Gautreau's death.

Before arriving in England, Sargent began sending paintings for exhibition at the Royal Academy. These included the portraits of Dr. Pozzi at Home (1881), a flamboyant essay in red and his first full-length male portrait, and the more traditional Mrs. Henry White (1883). The ensuing portrait commissions encouraged Sargent to complete his move to London in 1886. Notwithstanding the Madame X scandal, he had considered moving to London as early as 1882; he had been urged to do so repeatedly by his new friend, the novelist Henry James. In retrospect his transfer to London may be seen to have been inevitable.[38]

English critics were not warm at first, faulting Sargent for his "clever" "Frenchified" handling of paint. One reviewer seeing his portrait of Mrs. Henry White described his technique as "hard" and "almost metallic" with "no taste in expression, air, or modeling." With help from Mrs. White, however, Sargent soon gained the admiration of English patrons and critics.[39] Henry James also gave the artist "a push to the best of my ability."[40]

Sargent spent much time painting outdoors in the English countryside when not in his studio. On a visit to Monet at Giverny in 1885, Sargent painted one of his most Impressionistic portraits, of Monet at work painting outdoors with his new bride nearby. Sargent is usually not thought of as an Impressionist painter, but he sometimes used impressionistic techniques to great effect. His Claude Monet Painting at the Edge of a Wood is rendered in his own version of the impressionist style. In the 1880s, he attended the Impressionist exhibitions and he began to paint outdoors in the plein-air manner after that visit to Monet. Sargent purchased four Monet works for his personal collection during that time.[41]

Sargent was similarly inspired to do a portrait of his artist friend Paul César Helleu, also painting outdoors with his wife by his side. A photograph very similar to the painting suggests that Sargent occasionally used photography as an aid to composition.[42] Through Helleu, Sargent met and painted the famed French sculptor Auguste Rodin in 1884, a rather somber portrait reminiscent of works by Thomas Eakins.[43] Although the British critics classified Sargent in the Impressionist camp, the French Impressionists thought otherwise. As Monet later stated, "He is not an Impressionist in the sense that we use the word, he is too much under the influence of Carolus-Duran."[44]

Sargent's first major success at the Royal Academy came in 1887, with the enthusiastic response to Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose, a large piece, painted on site, of two young girls lighting lanterns in an English garden in Broadway in the Cotswolds. The painting was immediately purchased by the Tate Gallery.

His first trip to New York and Boston as a professional artist in 1887-88 produced over twenty important commissions, including portraits of Isabella Stewart Gardner, the famed Boston art patron. His portrait of Mrs. Adrian Iselin, wife of a New York businessman, revealed her character in one of his most insightful works. In Boston, Sargent was honored with his first solo exhibition, which presented twenty-two of his paintings.[45]

Back in London, Sargent was quickly busy again. His working methods were by then well-established, following many of the steps employed by other master portrait painters before him. After securing a commission through negotiations which he carried out, Sargent would visit the client's home to see where the painting was to hang. He would often review a client's wardrobe to pick suitable attire. Some portraits were done in the client's home, but more often in his studio, which was well-stocked with furniture and background materials he chose for proper effect.[46] He usually required eight to ten sittings from his clients, although he would try to capture the face in one sitting. He usually kept up pleasant conversation and sometimes he would take a break and play the piano for his sitter. Sargent seldom used pencil or oil sketches, and instead lay down oil paint directly.[47] Finally, he would select an appropriate frame.

Sargent had no assistants; he handled all the tasks, such as preparing his canvases, varnishing the painting, arranging for photography, shipping, and documentation. He commanded about $5,000 per portrait, or about $130,000 in current dollars.[48] Some American clients traveled to London at their own expense to have Sargent paint their portrait.

Around 1890, Sargent painted two daring non-commissioned portraits as show pieces—one of actress Ellen Terry as Lady MacBeth and one of the popular Spanish dancer La Carmencita.[49] Sargent was elected an associate of the Royal Academy, and was made a full member three years later. In the 1890s, he averaged fourteen portrait commissions per year, none more beautiful than the genteel Lady Agnew of Lochnaw, 1892. His portrait of Mrs. Hugh Hammersley (Mrs. Hugh Hammersley, 1892) was equally well received for its lively depiction of one of London's most notable hostesses. As a portrait painter in the grand manner, Sargent had unmatched success; he portrayed subjects who were at once ennobled and often possessed of nervous energy. Sargent was referred to as "the Van Dyck of our times."[50] Although Sargent was an American expatriate, he returned to the United States many times, often to answer the demand for commissioned portraits.

Sargent painted a series of three portraits of Robert Louis Stevenson. The second, Portrait of Robert Louis Stevenson and his Wife (1885), was one of his best known.[51] He also completed portraits of two U.S. presidents: Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson.

Asher Wertheimer, a wealthy Jewish art dealer living in London, commissioned from Sargent a series of a dozen portraits of his family, the artist's largest commission from a single patron.[52] The paintings reveal a pleasant familiarity between the artist and his subjects. Wertheimer bequeathed most of the paintings to the National Gallery.[53] In 1888, Sargent released his portrait of Alice Vanderbilt Shepard, great-granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt.[54] Many of his most important works are in museums in the United States.

By 1900, Sargent was at the height of his fame. Cartoonist Max Beerbohm completed one of his seventeen caricatures of Sargent, making well-known to the public the artist's paunchy physique.[55][56] Although only in his forties, Sargent began to travel more and to devote relatively less time to portrait painting. His An Interior in Venice (1900), a portrait of four members of the Curtis family in their elegant palatial home, Palazzo Barbaro, was a resounding success. But, Whistler did not approve of the looseness of Sargent's brushwork, which he summed up as "smudge everywhere."[57] One of Sargent's last major portraits in his bravura style was that of Lord Ribblesdale, in 1902, finely attired in an elegant hunting uniform. Between 1900 and 1907, Sargent continued his high productivity, which included, in addition to dozens of oil portraits, hundreds of portrait drawings at about $400 each.[58]

In 1907, at the age of fifty-one, Sargent officially closed his studio. Relieved, he stated, "Painting a portrait would be quite amusing if one were not forced to talk while working…What a nuisance having to entertain the sitter and to look happy when one feels wretched."[59] In that same year, Sargent painted his modest and serious self-portrait, his last, for the celebrated self-portrait collection of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.[60]

As Sargent wearied of portraiture he pursued architectural and landscapes subjects . During a visit to Rome in 1906 Sargent made an oil painting and several pencil sketches of the exterior staircase and balustrade in front of the Church of Saints Dominic and Sixtus, now the church of the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum. The double staircase built in 1654 is the design of architect and sculptor Orazio Torriani (fl.1602 — 1657). In 1907h e wrote: "I did in Rome a study of a magnificent curved staircase and balustrade, leading to a grand facade that would reduce a millionaire to a worm...."[61] The painting now hangs at the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford University and the pencil sketches are in the collection of the Harvard University art collection of the Fogg Museum.[62] Sargent later used the architectural features of this stair and balustrade in a portrait of Charles William Eliot, President of Harvard University from 1869-1909.[63]

Sargent's fame was still considerable and museums eagerly bought his works. That year he declined a knighthood and decided instead to keep his American citizenship. From 1907[64] on, Sargent largely forsook portrait painting and focused on landscapes in his later years. He made numerous visits to the United States in the last decade of his life, including a stay of two full years from 1915 to 1917.[65]

By the time Sargent finished his portrait of John D. Rockefeller in 1917, most critics began to consign him to the masters of the past, "a brilliant ambassador between his patrons and posterity." Modernists treated him more harshly, considering him completely out of touch with the reality of American life and with emerging artistic trends including Cubism and Futurism.[66] Sargent quietly accepted the criticism, but refused to alter his negative opinions of modern art. He retorted, "Ingres, Raphael and El Greco, these are now my admirations, these are what I like."[67] In 1925, soon before he died, Sargent painted his last oil portrait, a canvas of Grace Curzon, Marchioness Curzon of Kedleston. The painting was purchased in 1936 by the Currier Museum of Art, where it is on display.[68]


During Sargent's long career, he painted more than 2,000 watercolors, roving from the English countryside to Venice to the Tyrol, Corfu, the Middle East, Montana, Maine, and Florida. Each destination offered pictorial stimulation and treasure. Even at his leisure, in escaping the pressures of the portrait studio, he painted with restless intensity, often painting from morning until night.

His hundreds of watercolors of Venice are especially notable, many done from the perspective of a gondola. His colors were sometimes extremely vivid and as one reviewer noted, "Everything is given with the intensity of a dream."[69] In the Middle East and North Africa Sargent painted Bedouins, goatherds, and fisherman. In the last decade of his life, he produced many watercolors in Maine, Florida, and in the American West, of fauna, flora, and native peoples.

With his watercolors, Sargent was able to indulge his earliest artistic inclinations for nature, architecture, exotic peoples, and noble mountain landscapes. And it is in some of his late works where one senses Sargent painting most purely for himself. His watercolors were executed with a joyful fluidness. He also painted extensively family, friends, gardens, and fountains. In watercolors, he playfully portrayed his friends and family dressed in Orientalist costume, relaxing in brightly lit landscapes that allowed for a more vivid palette and experimental handling than did his commissions (The Chess Game, 1906).[70] His first major solo exhibit of watercolor works was at the Carfax Gallery in London in 1905.[71] In 1909, he exhibited eighty-six watercolors in New York City, eighty-three of which were bought by the Brooklyn Museum.[72] Evan Charteris wrote in 1927:

"To live with Sargent's water-colours is to live with sunshine captured and held, with the luster of a bright and legible world, 'the refluent shade' and 'the Ambient ardours of the noon.'"[73]

Although not generally accorded the critical respect given Winslow Homer, perhaps America's greatest watercolorist, scholarship has revealed that Sargent was fluent in the entire range of opaque and transparent watercolor technique, including the methods used by Homer.[75]
Other work

As a concession to the insatiable demand of wealthy patrons for portraits, Sargent dashed off hundreds of rapid charcoal portrait sketches, which he called "Mugs." Forty-six of these, spanning the years 1890–1916, were exhibited at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters in 1916.[76]

All of Sargent's murals are to be found in the Boston/Cambridge area. They are in the Boston Public Library, the Museum of Fine Arts, and Harvard's Widener Library. Sargent's largest scale works are the mural decorations that grace the Boston Public Library depicting the history of religion and the gods of polytheism.[77] They were attached to the walls of the library by means of marouflage. He worked on the cycle for almost thirty years but never completed the final mural. Sargent drew on his extensive travels and museum visits to create a dense art historial melange. The murals were restored in 2003–2004.[78]

Sargent worked on the murals from 1895 through 1919; they were intended to show religion's (and society's) progress, from pagan superstition up through the ascension of Christianity, concluding with a painting depicting Jesus delivering the Sermon on the Mount. But Sargent's late 1919 paintings of "The Church" and "The Synagogue" inspired a debate about whether the artist had represented Judaism in a stereotypic, or even an anti-Semitic, manner. Drawing upon iconography that was used in medieval paintings, Sargent portrayed Judaism and the synagogue as a blind, ugly hag, and Christianity and the church as a lovely, and radiant young woman. He also failed to understand how these representations might be problematic for the Jews of Boston; he was both surprised and hurt when the paintings were criticized (Promey [1]). The paintings were objectionable since they seemed to show Judaism defeated, and Christianity triumphant ("New Painting At Public Library" 48).[79] The Boston newspapers also followed the controversy, noting that while many found the paintings offensive, not everyone was in agreement. In the end, Sargent abandoned his plan to finish the murals, and the controversy eventually died down. The paintings were not displayed until 2003–2004, when the Boston Public Library restored the murals, including the two controversial panels, making them available to audiences once again (Lehmann-Barclay).[80]

Upon his return to England in 1918 after a visit to the United States, Sargent was commissioned as a war artist by the British Ministry of Information. In his large painting Gassed and in many watercolors, he depicted scenes from the Great War.[81]

Later life and death

In 1922 Sargent co-founded New York City's Grand Central Art Galleries together with Edmund Greacen, Walter Leighton Clark, and others.[82] Sargent actively participated in the Grand Central Art Galleries and their academy, the Grand Central School of Art, until his death in 1925. The Galleries held a major retrospective exhibit of Sargent's work in 1924.[83] He then returned to England, where he died on April 14, 1925 of heart disease.[83] Sargent is interred in Brookwood Cemetery near Woking, Surrey.[84]

Memorial exhibitions of Sargent's work were held in Boston in 1925, and at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Royal Academy and Tate Gallery in London in 1926.[85] The Grand Central Art Galleries also organized a posthumous exhibition in 1928 of previously unseen sketches and drawings from throughout his career.[86]
Relationships and personal life

Sargent was a lifelong bachelor who surrounded himself with family and friends. Among the artists with whom Sargent associated were Dennis Miller Bunker, James Carroll Beckwith, Edwin Austin Abbey (who also worked on the Boston Public Library murals), Francis David Millet and Claude Monet, whom Sargent painted. Between 1905 and 1914, Sargent's frequent traveling companions were the married artist couple Wilfrid de Glehn and Jane Emmet de Glehn. The trio would often spend summers in France, Spain or Italy and all three would depict one another in their paintings during their travels.[87]

Sargent developed a lifelong friendship with fellow painter Paul César Helleu, whom he met in Paris in 1878 when Sargent was 22 and Helleu was 18. Sargent's friends and supporters included Henry James, Isabella Stewart Gardner (who commissioned and purchased works from Sargent, and sought his advice on other acquisitions),[88] and Edward VII.[89]

Sargent was extremely private regarding his personal life, although the painter Jacques-Émile Blanche, who was one of his early sitters, said after his death that Sargent's sex life "was notorious in Paris, and in Venice, positively scandalous. He was a frenzied bugger."[90] The truth of this may never be established. Some scholars have suggested that Sargent was homosexual. He had personal associations with Prince Edmond de Polignac and Count Robert de Montesquiou. His male nudes reveal complex and well-considered artistic sensibilities about the male physique and male sensuality; this can be particularly observed in his portrait of Thomas E. McKeller, but also in Tommies Bathing, nude sketches for Hell and Judgement, and his portraits of young men, such as Bartholomy Maganosco and Head of Olimpio Fusco.[91] However, there were many friendships with women, as well, and a similar suppressed sensualism informs his female portrait and figure studies (notably Egyptian Girl, 1891). Art historian Deborah Davis suggests that Sargent's interest in women he considered exotic, Rosina Ferrara, Amélie Gautreau and Judith Gautier, was prompted by infatuation that transcended aesthetic appreciation.[92] The likelihood of an affair with Louise Burkhardt, the model for Lady with the Rose, is accepted by Sargent scholars.[93]

John Singer Sargent
A Hotel Room

John Singer Sargent
A Marble Fountain at Aranjuez, Spain

John Singer Sargent
A Morning Walk

John Singer Sargent
A Mosque, Cairo

John Singer Sargent
A Parisian Beggar Girl

John Singer Sargent
Alhambra, Patio de la Reja

John Singer Sargent
Alice Runnels James

John Singer Sargent (Florencia, 12 de enero de 1856 – 14 de abril de 1925) fue un pintor estadounidense, considerado el "retratista de más éxito de su generación".1 2 Durante su carrera, creó cerca de 900 pinturas al óleo y más de 2.000 acuarelas, así como innumerables bocetos y dibujos al carboncillo. Su obra documenta sus viajes a lo largo del mundo, desde Venecia al Tirol, Corfú, Oriente Próximo, Montana, Maine y Florida.

Sus padres eran estadounidenses, pero él se formó en París antes de trasladarse a Londres. Sargent disfrutó del aplauso internacional como retratista, aunque no sin cierta controversia y alguna reserva crítica. Desde el principio, su trabajo se caracterizó por una destacable habilidad técnica, particularmente su facilidad para el dibujo con el pincel, que en años posteriores generó tanto admiración como críticas por una supuesta superficialidad. Sus retratos de encargo se enmarcaban dentro de un estilo clasicista, mientras que sus estudios informales y bocetos mostraban una cierta cercanía con el impresionismo. En los últimos años de su vida, Sargent se expresó ambivalente en relación con las restricciones formales del retrato, dedicando gran parte de su esfuerzo a la pintura mural y al aire libre. Vivió la mayor parte de su vida en Europa.

Infancia y juventud

Antes del nacimiento de Sargent, FitzWilliam, su padre, (n. 1820, Gloucester, Massachusetts) fue cirujano ocular en el Hospital Wills Eye (Filadelfia) durante el periodo 1844–1854. Después de que el hermano mayor de John muriera a la edad de dos años, su madre Mary (de soltera Singer) sufrió una crisis nerviosa, y la pareja decidió marcharse para recuperarse. Fueron nómadas expatriados durante el resto de su vida.3 Con residencia habitual en París, los padres de Sargent se desplazaban regularmente según la estación del año a alojamientos en la costa y la montaña de Francia, Alemania, Italia y Suiza. Estando Mary embarazada, se detuvieron en Florencia debido a una epidemia de cólera. Sargent nació allí en 1856. Un año más tarde nació su hermana Mary. Después de su nacimiento, muy a su pesar, FitzWilliam renunció a su puesto en Filadelfia y aceptó las súplicas de su esposa para permanecer en el extranjero.4 Vivieron modestamente, gracias a una pequeña herencia y a sus ahorros, llevando una vida tranquila junto a sus hijos. Evitaron, generalmente, actos sociales y a otros estadounidenses, excepto a los amigos del mundo del arte.5 Estando en el extranjero nacieron cuatro hijos más, de los cuales solo dos sobrevivieron más allá de la infancia.6

Aunque su padre era un profesor paciente de asignaturas básicas, el joven Sargent era un niño inquieto, más interesado en actividades al aire libre que en sus estudios. Su padre escribió "es todo un observador de la naturaleza." Su madre estaba bastante convencida de que viajar a lo largo de Europa, visitando museos e iglesias, daría al joven Sargent una educación satisfactoria. Diversos intentos de escolarizarlo formalmente terminaron en fracaso, debido principalmente a su vida itinerante. La madre de Sargent fue una artista aficionada y su padre un diestro dibujante médico.7 Pronto, ella le proporcionó cuadernos de dibujo y le animó a que dibujara la excursiones que realizara. El joven Sargent trabajó con cuidado en sus dibujos, copiando con entusiasmo imágenes de embarcaciones del semanario ilustrado The Illustrated London News y realizando detallados bocetos de paisajes.8 FitzWilliam tuvo esperanzas en que el interés de su hijo en las embarcaciones y el mar le llevara a una carrera profesional en el sector naval.

A los trece años de edad, su madre escribió de John que "dibuja muy bien y tiene un ojo extraordinariamente rápido y correcto. Si pudiéramos permitirnos el darle lecciones realmente buenas, pronto sería un pequeño artista."9 A los trece recibió lecciones de acuarela de Carl Welsch, un paisajista alemán.10 Aunque su educación distó mucho de ser completa, Sargent creció hasta convertirse en un joven culto y cosmopolita, experto en arte, música y literatura.11 Hablaba con facilidad francés, italiano y alemán. A los diecisiete fue descrito como "terco, curioso, resuelto y fuerte" (por su madre) pero tímido, generoso y modesto (por su padre).12 Tenía conocimiento de primera mano de muchos de los grandes maestros, escribiendo en 1874 que "en Venecia he aprendido a admirar inmensamente a Tintoretto y a considerarlo quizás solo por detrás de de Miguel Ángel y Tiziano."13


El intento de Sargent de estudiar en la Academia de Florencia no tuvo éxito, debido a que ésta estaba reorganizándose por entonces; así, tras regresar a París desde Florencia, comenzó estudios de arte con Carolus-Duran. El joven retratista francés, que había tenido una meteórica ascensión, era conocido por su técnica enérgica y su modernos métodos de enseñanza y su influencia fue clave para Sargent durante el periodo 1874-1878.14

En 1874, en su primer intento, Sargent aprobó el riguroso examen de ingreso a la École des Beaux-Arts, la principal escuela de arte en Francia. Recibió clases de dibujo, incluyendo anatomía y perspectiva, ganando un premio de plata.14 15 Además, dedicó mucho tiempo al estudio por su cuenta, dibujando en museos y pintando en un estudio que compartía con James Carroll Beckwith. Este llegó a ser tanto un gran amigo como su principal conexión con artistas estadounidenses.16 Sargent también recibió clases de Léon Bonnat.15

El taller de Carolus-Duran era progresista, prescindiendo del tradicional acercamiento académico, que requería un dibujo cuidadoso de base, en favor del método alla prima, trabajando directamente sobre el lienzo con el pincel, tal y como hiciera Diego Velázquez. Esta enfoque se apoya en la correcta ubicación de tonos de pintura,17 al tiempo que permite florituras espontáneas de color no sujetas a ningún dibujo de base. Esta aproximación era marcadamente diferente al método tradicional del estudio de Jean Léon Gérôme, donde habían estudiado los americanos Thomas Eakins y Julian Alden Weir.

Sargent se convirtió rápidamente en el estudiante estrella. Julian Alden Weir, que conoció a Sargent en 1874, dijo de él que era "uno de los compañeros con más talento de con los que he coincidido; sus dibujos son como los de los viejos maestros, y su color es también magnífico."16 El dominio del francés de Sargent y su talento lo llevaron a ser popular y admirado. A través de su amistad con Paul César Helleu, Sargent conoció a personalidades del mundo del arte, entre las que se encontraban Degas, Rodin, Monet y Whistler.

En estos años, el principal interés de Sargent se centró en los paisajes, no en el retrato, como evidencian sus voluminosos libros de dibujos llenos de montañas, marinas y edificios.18 La experiencia de Carolus-Duran en el retrato finalmente influenció a Sargent en dicha dirección. Los encargos de pinturas históricas eran, por aquel entonces, considerados más prestigiosos pero más difíciles de conseguir. Los retratos, por el contrario, eran la mejor forma de crearse una carrera en el mundo del arte, consiguiendo ser exhibido en el Salón de París, y ganarse la vida.

El primer gran retrato de Sargent fue el de su amiga Fanny Watts en 1877, así como su primera presencia en el Salón. Su extremadamente bien dibujada pose llamó la atención.18 Su segunda obra en el Salón fue Los recolectores de ostras de Cançale, una pintura impresionista, de la cual hizo dos copias, una de las cuales fue enviada a los Estados Unidos, recibiendo ambas críticas favorables.19

Comienzo de carrera profesional

En 1879, con 23 años, Sargent pintó un retrato de su maestro, Carolus-Duran; este logró la aprobación del público, anunciando la dirección que tomarían sus obras de madurez. Su exposición en el Salón de París fue tanto un tributo a su maestro como un anuncio para el encargo de retratos.20 Henry James escribió de la obra inicial de Sargent que el artista ofrecía "el ligeramente 'único' espectáculo de un talento que a las puertas de su carrera no tiene nada más que aprender."21

Después de abandonar el estudio de Carolus-Duran, Sargent visitó España. Allí estudió la obra de Velázquez con pasión, absorbiendo la técnica del maestro, al tiempo que tomó ideas para sus trabajos futuros.22 Encantado por la música y el baile español, este viaje volvió a despertar su propio talento para la música -que era casi igual a su talento para el arte-, expresándolo visualmente en su temprana obra maestra El Jaleo (1882). La música continuaría jugando un papel importante en su vida social, siendo un diestro acompañante de músicos tanto aficionados como profesionales. Sargent se convirtió en un ferviente defensor de compositores modernos, especialmente Gabriel Fauré.23 Sus viajes a Italia dieron lugar a bocetos e ideas para diversas pinturas de escenas callejeras venecianas, que capturaron gestos y posturas que sería útiles para retratos posteriores.24

Tras su regreso, Sargent no tardó en recibir diversos pedidos de retratos; su carrera estaba lanzada. Inmediatamente demostró la concentración y energía que le permitieron pintar con la constancia de un obrero durante los siguientes veinticinco años. Rellenó los intervalos entre pedidos con múltiples retratos de amigos y colegas. Sus modales, dominio del francés y nivel lo hicieron destacar entre los nuevos retratistas, expandiendo rápidamente su fama y prestigio. Su confianza le hizo establecer elevadas tarifas por su obra y le permitió rechazar clientes.25



En los primeros años de la década de 1880, Sargent expuso con regularidad diversos retratos en el Salón de París, la mayoría de los cuales fueron obras de gran formato retratando a mujeres, como Madame Edouard Pailleron (1880) (realizado al aire libre) y Madame Ramón Subercaseaux (1881). Con estos lienzos Sargent continuó recibiendo críticas positivas.26

Los mejores retratos de Sargent revelan la individualidad y personalidad de su modelos; sus más fervientes admiradores creen que en este aspecto solo es igualado por Velázquez, una de las grandes influencias de Sargent. La obra donde más claramente se percibe la influencia del pintor sevillano es en Las hijas de Edward Darley Boit (1882), una obra de interior con reminiscencias a Las Meninas.27 Como en muchos de sus retratos más tempranos, Sargent se atreve a usar diferentes aproximaciones ante cada reto, empleando en este caso una composición e iluminación no habituales que dan lugar a una llamativo efecto. Uno de sus trabajos más destacados y apreciados de esta década fue Dama de la rosa (1882), un retrato de Charlotte Burckhardt, que fue una amiga cercana y con quien, tal vez, tuvo una aventura.28

Su obra más controvertida, Retrato de Madame X (Madame Pierre Gautreau) (1884) es actualmente considerado uno de sus mejores trabajos; el propio Sargent comentó en 1915 "Supongo que es lo mejor que he hecho."29 Sin embargo, cuando se mostró en Salón de París en 1884 generó tal reacción negativa que Sargent se trasladó a vivir a Londres. La confianza de Sargent en sí mismo le llevó a intentar un experimento arriesgado, pero no le salió bien.30 No se trataba de un retrato de encargo sino que, a diferencia de lo que era habitual, Sargent se lo ofreció a la retratada. Sargent escribió a un conocido mutuo: "Tengo un gran deseo de pintar su retrato y tengo razones para pensar que ella lo permitiría, y está esperando que alguien se lo proponga como un homenaje a su belleza... debes decirle que soy un hombre de un talento prodigioso."31

Le llevó alrededor de un año el completar la pintura.32 La primera versión del retrato de Madame Gautreau, con su famoso escote, la piel blanca y la arrogante y altiva posición de la cabeza, incluía un tirante caído que incrementaba el efecto global, haciéndolo más atrevido y sensual.33 Sargent cambió el tirante, intentando enfriar las reacciones, pero el daño ya estaba hecho. Los encargos en Francia se resintieron y le dijo a su amigo Edmund Gosse en 1885 que estaba contemplando abandonar la pintura para dedicarse a la música o los negocios.34

Escribiendo acerca de la reacción de los visitantes, Judith Gautier escribió: "¿Es una mujer? ¿Una quimera, la figura de un unicornio levantando su cabeza en un escudo de armas o quizás la obra de un artista decorativo oriental para quien la forma humana está prohibida y que, intentando recordar a una mujer, ha dibujado un delicioso arabesco? No, no es ninguna de estas cosas, sino la precisa imagen de una mujer moderna dibujada por un pintor que es un maestro de su arte".35

Antes del escándalo de Madame X en 1884, Sargent había pintado bellezas exóticas como Rosina Ferrara de Capri, y la modelo española expatriada Carmela Bertagna, pero estas primeras pinturas no habían sido destinadas al gran público. Sargent mantuvo expuesta la pintura en su estudio de Londres hasta que lo vendió al Metropolitan Museum of Art en 1916, pocos meses después de la muerte de Madame Gautreau.

Antes de llegar a Inglaterra, Sargent había comenzado a enviar pinturas para ser expuestas en la Royal Academy. Entre estos se encontraban el retrato del Dr. Pozzi en casa (1881), un extravagante ensayo en rojo y su primer retrato masculino de cuerpo completo, y el más tradicional Mrs. Henry White (1883). Los encargos que siguieron a estos llevaron a Sargent a trasladarse definitivamente a Londres en 1886. Antes del escándalo de Madame X, ya venía considerado la idea de mover su residencia a Londres desde 1882, urgido a ello de forma repetida por su amigo, el novelista Henry James. Visto en retrospectiva, su traslado a Londres parece haber sido inevitable.36

En un principio, la crítica británica no fue favorable a Sargent, echándole en cara su forma afrancesada de pintar. Un crítico, en relación a su retrato de Mrs. Henry White, describió su técnica como "dura" y "casi metálica", "sin gusto en la expresión, el aire o la pose". Sin embargo, con la ayuda de la propia Sra. White, Sargent pronto consiguió ganarse la admiración de los clientes y críticos ingleses.37 Henry James también colaboró en la difusión y éxito de la obra de Sargent en Inglaterra.38

Sargent pasó mucho tiempo pintando al aire libre en la campiña inglesa cuando no estaba en su estudio. En 1885, durante una visita a Monet en Giverny, Sargent pintó uno de sus obras más impresionistas, retratando al propio Monet pintando junto a su esposa. A Sargent nunca se le ha considerado como un pintor impresionista, pero a veces sí usó técnicas propias de este movimiento, logrando grandes resultados; Claude Monet pintando en el linde de un bosque está realizado siguiendo su propia versión del impresionismo. En la década de 1880, él acudió a diversas exposiciones de pintura impresionista y compró obras de Monet para su colección privada.39

De forma similar, Sargent también realizó un retrato al aire libre de su amigo Paul César Helleu junto a su esposa. Existe una fotografía muy similar a este lienzo, lo que parece sugerir que Sargent ocasionalmente usó fotografías como ayuda para realizar sus composiciones.40 Por mediación de Helleu, Sargent conoció y pintó al famoso escultor francés Auguste Rodin en 1884, en un sombrío retrato que recuerda a las obras de Thomas Eakins.41 Aunque los críticos británicos clasificaban a Sargent dentro del movimiento impresionista, los propios pintores impresionistas opinaban de forma distinta. Como dijo, posteriormente, el propio Monet: "Él no es impresionista en el sentido en que usamos esta palabra, estando demasiado bajo la influencia de Carolus-Duran."42

El primer gran éxito de Sargent en la Royal Academy llegó en 1887, con la entusiasta respuesta cosechada por Clavel, lirio, lirio, rosa, un lienzo de gran tamaño pintando al aire libre, que representa a dos niñas encendiendo linternas en en jardín en Broadway (Worcestershire). Esta pintura fue inmediatamente adquirida por la Tate Gallery.

Su primer viaje a Nueva York y Boston como artista profesional en 1887-88 dio lugar a más de veinte importantes encargos, incluyendo el retrato de Isabella Stewart Gardner, la famosa mecenas de las artes en Boston. Su retrato de Mrs. Adrian Iselin, esposa de un hombre de negocios de Nueva York, fue una de sus pinturas más penetrantes, revelando el carácter de la modelo. En Boston, Sargent disfrutó de su primera exposición individual, mostrando veintidós de sus obras.43

De vuelta a Londres, Sargent volvió a estar nuevamente muy atareado. Su método de trabajo estaba perfectamente establecido, siguiendo los pasos que muchos otros maestros del arte del retrato habían empleado anteriormente. Después de asegurarse un pedido tras un periodo de negociación que llevaba él personalmente, Sargent visitaba el domicilio del cliente para observar donde se iba a colgar la pintura. Podía, incluso, revisar el guardarropa del cliente para elegir el traje adecuado. Algunos retratos se realizaban en casa del modelo, pero frecuentemente se utilizaba el estudio, donde se disponía de mobiliario y materiales para diseñar un fondo que permitiera obtener el efecto deseado.44 Usualmente necesitaba de ocho a diez sesiones de posado del modelo, aunque podía intentar captar el rostro en una sesión. Trataba de mantener una charla con el cliente mientras le pintaba y, a veces, dedicaba una pausa para tocar el piano para este. Rara vez hacía un dibujo previo, sino que directamente pintaba al óleo.45 Finalmente, seleccionaba un marco adecuado.

Sargent no tenía ayudantes; él mismo realizaba todas las tareas: preparaba los lienzos, daba barniz, preparaba fotografías, envíos y documentación. Su tarifa era de unos 5.000 $ por retrato (aproximadamente 130.000 $ actuales).46 Algunos clientes estadounidenses, incluso viajaban a Londres a su costa para conseguir que Sargent los retratara.

Alrededor de 1890, Sargent pintó dos atrevidos retratos pensados para ser expuestos, que no eran encargos, uno de la actriz Ellen Terry como Lady MacBeth y otro de la popular bailaora española La Carmencita.47 Sargent fue elegido como asociado de la Royal Academy, y paso a ser miembro de pleno derecho tres años después. En la década de 1890 realizó una media de 14 retratos de encargo al año, ninguno de mayor calidad que el refinado Lady Agnew of Lochnaw (1892). Igualmente, su retrato de Mrs. Hugh Hammersley (1892) tuvo una magnífica acogida por su enérgica representación de una de las anfitrionas más notables de Londres. Como pintor de retratos a la manera clásica, Sargent tuvo un éxito sin igual; retrató a modelos que se veían ennoblecidos al tiempo que revestidos de una energía especial. A Sargent se le conoció como "el Van Dyck de nuestros tiempos."48 Aún en su posición de expatriado, volvió en numerosas ocasiones a los Estados Unidos, en respuesta a la alta demanda de encargos de retratos existente.

Sargent pintó una serie de tres retratos de Robert Louis Stevenson. El segundo de ellos, Retrato de Robert Louis Stevenson y su esposa (1885), es uno de los más conocidos.49 También pintó sendos retratos de dos presidentes de los Estados Unidos: Theodore Roosevelt y Woodrow Wilson.

Asher Wertheimer, un acaudalado marchante de arte residente en Londres, encargó a Sargent una docena de retratos de su familia, el mayor encargo de un único cliente que obtuvo el artista.50 Estas pinturas muestran el alto grado de familiaridad entre el artista y sus retratados. Wertheimer legó la mayor parte de estas obras a la National Gallery.51 En 1888, Sargent realizó el retrato de Alice Vanderbilt Shepard, bisnieta de Cornelius Vanderbilt.

Alrededor de 1900, Sargent estaba en el cénit de su popularidad. Aunque sólo estaba en la cuarentena, comenzó a viajar más y a dedicar relativamente menos tiempo a la pintura de retratos. Su Un interior en Venecia (1900), un retrato de cuatro miembros de la familia Curtis en su elegante palacio, Palazzo Barbaro, tuvo un éxito atronador. Pero, Whistler no aprobaba la flojedad del trazo de Sargent, al que calificó de "manchas por todos sitios."52 Uno de los últimos grandes retratos de Sargent siguiendo su habitual estilo virtuoso fue el de Lord Ribblesdale, en 1902, donde aparece vestido elegantemente con uniforme de caza. Entre 1900 y 1907, Sargent continuó con su alto ritmo de trabajo, en el que además de decenas de retratos al óleo, realizó cientos de retratos dibujados, con un precio aproximado de 400 $ cada uno.53

En 1907, contando con cincuenta y un años, Sargent cerró oficialmente su estudio. Aliviado, comentó que "pintar un retrato puede ser bastante entretenido si uno no está forzado a hablar mientras trabaja... Qué tontería tener que entretener al modelo y parecer feliz, cuando uno se siente desgraciado."54 En ese mismo año, Sargent pintó su modesto y serio autorretrato, el último, para la famosa colección de autorretratos de la Galería Uffizi (Florencia).55

La fama de Sargent era aún considerable y los museos seguían comprando sus obras de forma entusiasta. Ese año declinó la concesión del título de Sir y decidió, por el contrario, mantener su ciudadanía estadounidense. A partir de 190756 Sargent, en gran medida, abandona la realización de retratos y se centra en los paisajes. En la última década de su vida realiza numerosos viajes a los Estados Unidos, incluyendo una estancia de dos años, desde 1915 a 1917.57

Por la época en que Sargent finalizó su retrato de John D. Rockefeller en 1917, la mayor parte de los críticos comenzaban a incluirlo entre los maestros del pasado, "un brillante embajador entre sus clientes y la posteridad". Las vanguardias lo trataban con más dureza, considerándolo fuera de contacto con la realidad de la vida americana y las tendencias artísticas emergentes, como el cubismo y el futurismo.58 Sargent aceptaba con resignación estas críticas, pero se negó a alterar su punto de vista negativo hacia el arte moderno. Replicaba que "Ingres, Rafael y El Greco, esos son a los que admiro, los que me gustan".59 En 1925, poco antes de morir, pintó su último retrato, un lienzo de Grace Curzon.


Durante la larga y prolífica carrera de Sargent, este llegó a pintar más de 2.000 acuarelas, dejando muestra de su paso desde la campiña inglesa al Tirol, Corfú, Oriente Próximo, Montana, Maine y Florida. Cada destino aportaba la suficiente riqueza y estímulo visual para ser plasmado sobre el papel. Incluso en sus momentos de descanso, escapando de la presión del retrato en estudio, pintaba sin pausa, a veces desde primera hora de la mañana hasta la noche.

Especialmente notables son sus cientos de acuarelas sobre Venecia, muchas de ellas dibujadas desde la perspectiva de una góndola. Sus colores, a veces, son extremadamente intensos; como un crítico escribió: "Todo se ofrece con la intensidad de un sueño."60 En Oriente Próximo y el norte de África, Sargent pintó beduinos, cabreros y pescadores. En la última década de su vida realizó un gran número de acuarelas en Maine, Florida y el Oeste Americano, de fauna, flora y habitantes nativos.

Con sus acuarelas, Sargent se daba el gusto de retomar sus inclinaciones artísticas más tempranas: la naturaleza, la arquitectura, las gentes exóticas y los paisajes montañosos. Es en alguno de sus últimos trabajos donde se siente a Sargent trabajando de forma más pura para él mismo. Realizaba sus acuarelas con una fluidez gozosa. También pintó familiares, amigos, jardines y fuentes. En sus acuarelas retrató a sus amigos y familiares vestidos con trajes orientales, en poses relajadas sobre paisajes más brillantes, permitiendo una paleta más viva y una técnica más experimental que la usada en sus encargos (un ejemplo de esto es Una partida de ajedrez, 1906).61 Su primera exposición importante de acuarelas fue en 1905 en la Galería Carfax en Londres.62 En 1909 exhibió ochenta y seis acuarelas en Nueva York, de las cuales el Museo de Brooklyn compró ochenta y tres.63

Evan Charteris escribió en 1927: "Vivir con las acuarelas de Sargent es vivir con la luz del sol capturada, con el lustre de un mundo brillante y legible, el flujo de las sombras y el ardoroso ambiente del mediodía."64 Aunque sin alcanzar los niveles de aceptación crítica dados a Winslow Homer, posiblemente el acuarelista americano más destacado, los estudiosos destacan que Sargent dominó completamente la técnica da la acuarela -transparencias y opacidades- incluyendo los métodos usados por Homer.65

Otros trabajos

Como concesión a la insaciable demanda de retratos, Sargent dibujó cientos de estos en forma de rápidos bocetos al carboncillo, a los que llamó "Mugs". Cuarenta y seis de estos, realizados entre 1890 y 1916, fueron expuestos en la Real Sociedad de Retratistas (Londres) en 1916.66

La totalidad de la obra muralística de Sargent se encuentra ubicada geográficamente en la zona de Boston/Cambridge. Están en el Edificio McKim de la Biblioteca Pública de Boston, en el Museo de Bellas Artes (Boston) y en la Biblioteca Widener de Harvard. De todos estos, la obra de mayores dimensiones son los murales que Sargent realizó desde 1895 hasta 1919 para la Biblioteca Pública de Boston; su intención era que mostraran el progreso de la religión (y la sociedad), desde la superstición pagana a la ascensión del cristianismo, terminando con una pintura mostrando el Sermón del monte. Sin embargo, las últimas pinturas -La Iglesia y La Sinagoga (1919)- dieron lugar a un debate acerca de si el artista estaba representando el judaísmo de una forma estereotípica o, incluso, antisemita. Usando iconografía proveniente de pinturas medievales, Sargent retrató al judaísmo y la sinagoga como una vieja fea y ciega, mientras que el cristianismo y la iglesia aparecían como una joven radiante y encantadora. Sargent no llegó a prever como estas representaciones serían problemáticas para los judíos de Boston; se quedó sorprendido y dolido cuando estas pinturas fueron criticadas.67 Las pinturas eran objetables, ya que mostraban al judaísmo derrotado y al cristianismo triunfante.68 La prensa local dio voz a la controversia, opinando la mayoría de esta que las pinturas eran ofensivas, aunque no hubo un acuerdo unánime. Finalmente, Sargent abandonó sus planes para finalizar los murales y la controversia decayó. Las pinturas fueron restauradas en 2003-2004, momento a partir del cual comenzaron a ser exhibidas al público, incluyendo los dos paneles polémicos.69 70

A su regreso a Inglaterra en 1918 tras una visita a los Estados Unidos, Sargent fue contratado como artista bélico por el Ministerio de Información Británica. En su pintura de gran formato Los Gaseados y en múltiples acuarelas, pintó escenas de la I Guerra Mundial.71
Últimos años y fallecimiento

En 1922 Sargent fundó, junto a Edmund Greacen, Walter Leighton Clark y otros, las Galerías de Arte Grand Central en la ciudad de Nueva York.72 Sargent participó activamente en las Galerías de Arte Grand Central y su academia, la Escuela de Arte Grand Central, hasta su muerte en 1925. Las Galerías exhibieron una gran retrospectiva del trabajo de Sargent en 1924.73 Tras esto, volvió a Inglaterra, donde murió el 14 de abril de 1925 por una afección cardiaca.73 John Singer Sargent fue enterrado en el cementerio de Brookwood, cerca de Woking, Surrey.74

Se realizaron diversas exposiciones en su recuerdo: en Boston, en 1925, en el Museo Metropolitano de Arte de Nueva York y en la Royal Academy y Tate Gallery de Londres en 1926.75 Las Galerías de Arte Grand Central organizaron una exposición póstuma en 1928 de dibujos y bocetos de toda su carrera no expuestos anteriormente.


John Singer Sargent
Almina, Daughter of Asher Wertheimer

Painter: John Singer Sargent - Part 1 - 13 paints - Bio data English y Espanol - Links

John Singer Sargent, 1880, fotografía de Paul Berthier

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My blogs are an open house to all cultures, religions and countries. Be a follower if you like it, with this action you are building a new culture of tolerance, open mind and heart for peace, love and human respect. Thanks :)

Mis blogs son una casa abierta a todas las culturas, religiones y países. Se un seguidor si quieres, con esta acción usted está construyendo una nueva cultura de la tolerancia, la mente y el corazón abiertos para la paz, el amor y el respeto humano. Gracias:)


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