"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.

In 1903, a portrait of John S. Sargent, by Post, appeared on the cover of Harper's Weekly (Vol XLVII, No. 2407, Feb. 7, 1903.)
Americans of To-Morrow
XXVI - John S Sargent, AET. 47

The short article on page 226, read in full:
Mr. John S. Sargent, a sketch of whom appears in our series this week, has just come over from England to carry out a commission of painting a portrait of the President, and to superintend the placing of some of his mural decorations in the Boston Public Library. Mr. Sargent lives abroad, and has spent most of his life there. With Edwin A. Abbey he has had the highest recognition that can be given in England and on the continent. We still claim him, however, for America, and it is a matter of hearty congratulation that we have here a large part of his work. At forty-seven his best work is still undone. -- Harper's Weekly. Feb. 7 1903.


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