Women of John Singer Sargent. How beautiful they are…

John Singer Sargent (January 12, 1856 – April 14, 1925) was the most successful portrait painter of his era, as well as a gifted landscape painter and watercolorist. Sargent was born in Florence, Italy to American parents.

Sargent studied in Italy and Germany, and then in Paris under Emile Auguste Carolus-Duran.

Sargent studied with Carolus-Duran, whose influence would be pivotal, from 1874-1878. 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 which relied on the proper placement of tones of paint.

Women of John Singer Sargent. Oil paintings

“…looking at his (Sargent’s) portraits, they understood at last how rich they really were… They had waited, among other things for Sargent to record them, and he snatched many of them from Time’s effacement; the aristocrat with his top hat and his riding whip, his handsome ram’s head and air of dowdy elegance, the fashionable beauties who were beautiful but in so unstylized and fade a manner that it was almost impossible to formulate them upon canvas, and the fashionable beauties who were ugly and so much easier to paint. But all the women in his picture are richly clothed and all have the same harpies’ hands, grasping and ineffectual, with long grey-green talons, and hold, or allow to dangle, the same arm’s-length white kid gloves. Then there are the generals, the statesmen and the viceroys, and a ponderous and pondering author or two, with domed forehead and business man’s jaw, looking out of presentation portraits inexpensive frames…”

Women of John Singer Sargent. Drawings

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