John Singer Sargent (born January 12, 1856
in Florence, Italy – died April 24, 1925 (age 69) in London),
an expatriate American, he showed remarkable technical precocity
as a painter. After studying with Carolus-Duran, he achieved
a great reputation for his portraits, employing a style that
could be seen as derived from
by way of
Moving in the circle of the
he came to know most of them, and they reacted to his work in varying
as might have been expected, was brutally dismissive;
in sending his son to see him in London, where Sargent spent
the major part of his working life, described him as
an adroit performer'; but with
he had a close and mutually profitable relationship.
In the 1880s he began to paint landscapes that were overtly
Impressionist in technique and approach, despite a certain
superficiality. At this time he visited Monet at Giverny
on several occasions, painting two memorable portraits of him:
Claude Monet Painting at the Edge of a Wood
(c.1885; Tate Gallery, London) and
Claude Monet in his Bateau-Atelier
(1887; National Gallery of Art, Washington).
Although Monet was later to deny that Sargent was an Impressionist,
this was unjust, especially in relation to some of his works
in the 1880s and 1890s.
Indeed, Sargent's technique for painting large canvases out of doors,
as evinced in
Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose
(1885-86; Tate Gallery, London),
was to be of use to Monet in his larger compositions.
Sargent persuaded Monet to exhibit at the New English Art Club,
and at the Leicester Galleries in London.
By the turn of the
century Sargent was recognized as the most acclaimed international
society portraitist of the Edwardian era, and his clientele
included the most affluent, aristocratic, and fashionable people of
his time. Sargent chafed in later life at the limitations of
portraiture, and around the turn of the century he worked
increasingly at other subjects and in other mediums, particularly
watercolor, in which he was extraordinarily gifted.
expatriate who lived in London, Sargent was committed to America's
cultural development and executed important mural decorations for
the Boston Public Library (1890–1919), the Museum of Fine
Arts, Boston (1916–1925), and Harvard University's Widener
Library (1921–1922). He died in London in 1925.