"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

John Singer Sargent



This 1902 double self-portrait of John Singer Sargent is on display at the National Portrait Gallery  in Washington, DC. It belongs to a private collection, in Columbus Georgia.
Notoriously reticent, Sargent disliked shining the spotlight on himself. Out of the 1,300 or more portraits in various media that he produced in his lifetime, he portrayed himself in only a half dozen or so. His claim that the process of making self-portraits “bored” him is symptomatic of his growing aversion to portraiture in general. After painting his last self-portrait in 1906 at the request of the Uffizi Museum in Florence, Sargent declared, “I have long been sick and tired of portrait painting, and while I was painting my own ‘mug’ I firmly resolved to devote myself to other branches of art as soon as possible.” Sargent's ongoing work in charcoal portraits proved to be the exception to that rule. In this drawing, Sargent experimented with two angles of representation, as if hinting at the impossibility of capturing the essence of a person in a single image. -- NPG
This 1903 photo of Sargent by James E. Purdy comes to us from Getty Images via Wikimedia.

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