John Singer Sargent

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John Singer Sargent (1856–1925) was an American painter, born in Florence, Italy, and trained in Paris, who lived mainly in England from 1886 onwards, with studios in Tite Street Chelsea and Fulham Road.


Sargent was considered the leading portrait painter of his generation.[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.

Private life

Sargent never married, and 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."[3] The truth of this may never be established. Sargent had personal associations with the French composer Prince Edmond de Polignac (1834–1901) and Polignac's lover Count Robert de Montesquiou (1855–1921). 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.[4] 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.[5] The likelihood of an affair with Louise Burkhardt, the model for Lady with the Rose, is accepted by Sargent scholars.[6]


Partly based on a Wikipedia article.

  1. "While his art matched to the spirit of the age, Sargent came into his own in the 1890s as the leading portrait painter of his generation". Ormond, p. 34, 1998.
  2. "At the time of the Wertheimer commission Sargent was the most celebrated, sought-after and expensive portrait painter in the world". New Orleans Museum of Art
  3. Fairbrother, Trevor John Singer Sargent: The Sensualist (2001) ISBN 0-300-08744-6, p. 139, Note 4.
  4. Little, p. 141.
  5. Davis, pp. 11–22.
  6. Ormond, p. 14, 1998.