- Portrait of Monique Bourgeois, 1942-43- Henri Matisse (1869-1954)
- Le Tuileries- 1876 – Oscar Claude Monet (1840-1926)
- Capri, 1890 – Theodore Robinson (1852-1896)
- People strolling in a park in Paris-Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)
- Im Grau, 1919 – Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944)
- Sailing Ship Locked in Ice-1883 – Childe Hassam (1859-1935)
- Tree Alley in Veren geville,1882 – Claude Monet (1840-1926)
- A Devon Farm Yard, 1916-Stanisława de Karłowska (1876-1952)
- The House at Rueil, 1882 – Edouard Manet (1832-1883)
- Monet and Chicago | Virtual Walkthrough
Experience the highly acclaimed exhibition “Monet and Chicago” with this virtual tour led by Gloria Groom, Chair and David and Mary Winton Green Curator of Painting and Sculpture of Europe.
Learn more about “Monet and Chicago” on our exhibition page: https://www.artic.edu/exhibitions/903…
- Alice in Wonderland, 1923-Helen M. Turner (American,1858-1958)
- Les demoiselles d’Avignon, 1907 – Picasso (1881-1973)
- Sunshine in the living room, 1895 – Carl Vilhelm Holsøe (1863-1935)
- In the Park, 1920, 21 -Einari Wehmas (1898-1955)
- The Sketchers, 1913 – John Singer Sargent (1856-1925)
- Le verger (The Orchard), 1872-Camille Pissarro (French,1830-1903)
- Little Town,1929-Maria Ewa Łunkiewicz-Rogoyska (1895-1967, Polish)
- Landscape in Marcillac, 1900-Felix Edouard Vallotton (Swiss, 1865-1925)
- Public exhibition of a picture, 1888-Joan Ferrer Miró (1850-1931)
- Autumn, 1918-Stanislav Zhukovsky (1873-1944)
- Jardin et poulailler chez Octave Mirbeau, Les Damps, 1892 – Camille Pissarro (1830-1903)
- The Chapel Notre-Dame de Grace at Honfleur, 1864 – Claude Monet (1840-1926)
- In the Twilight (1902) – Eugène Fredrik Jansson (Swedish, 1862 – 1915)
- Paris, 1936 Konstantin Korovin (Russian, 1861-1939)
- Paris, View of the Seine, Night, 1893 – Maximilien Luce (French,1858-1941)
- “Interior”, 1898 – Asta Nørregaard (Norwegian, 1853-1933)
- Hurricane, Bahamas 1898 – Winslow Homer (1836-1910)
- The Galettes,1882 – Claude Monet (1840-1926)
- The parc Monceau (1900) – Albert Lebourg (1849-1928) –
- Window with Violets – Stanislav Zhukovsky (1875-1944)
- The Waggon Tracks, 1918 – Joan Miró (1893-1983)
- Camille Pissarro: A collection of 978 paintings (HD)
Camille Pissarro: A collection of 978 paintings (HD) Description: “The only painter to exhibit in all eight Impressionist exhibitions organized between 1874 and 1886, Camille Pissarro became a pivotal artist and mentor within the movement. While the Impressionists are known for their depictions of city streets and country leisure, Pissarro covered his canvases with images of the day-to-day life of French peasants. His greatest work joins his fascination with rural subject matter with the empirical study of nature under different conditions of light and atmosphere, deriving from intense study of French Realism. Like those of his Impressionist cohorts, his paintings are delicate studies of the effect of light on color in nature. However, he continually sought out younger, progressive artists as colleagues, and his articulation of scientific color theory in his later work would prove indispensable for the following generation of avant-garde painters.”
Camille Pissarro was a Danish-French Impressionist and Neo-Impressionist painter born on the island of St Thomas. His importance resides in his contributions to both Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. Pissarro studied from great forerunners, including Gustave Courbet and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. Wikipedia
French artist WRITTEN BY Kathleen Adler Head of Education, The National Gallery, London. Author of Camille Pissaro: A Biography and others.
Camille Pissarro, in full Jacob-Abraham-Camille Pissarro, (born July 10, 1830, St. Thomas, Danish West Indies—died Nov. 13, 1903, Paris, France), painter and printmaker who was a key figure in the history of Impressionism. Pissarro was the only artist to show his work in all eight Impressionist group exhibitions; throughout his career he remained dedicated to the idea of such alternative forums of exhibition. He experimented with many styles, including a period when he adopted Georges Seurat’s “pointillist” approach. A supportive friend and mentor to influential artists such as Paul Cézanne and Paul Gauguin, he was described by many who knew him as “Father Pissarro.”
Pissarro was the third son of a Jewish merchant of French, originally Portuguese, descent. His family lived above their shop on Charlotte Amalie, the main street of St. Thomas. When Camille was 12 years old, his parents sent him away to a school in Passy, near Paris. The young Pissarro showed an early talent for drawing, and he began to visit the collections of the Louvre.
At age 17 he returned to St. Thomas, where his father expected him to enter the family business. Pissarro was more interested in sketching at the harbour, however, and, after meeting the visiting Danish painter Fritz Melbye, he sailed with the older artist to Venezuela in November 1852. Later, Pissarro said he had “abandoned all I had and bolted to Caracas to get clear of the bondage of bourgeois life.” While in Caracas, Pissarro made many sketches of life on the streets. He returned to St. Thomas in August 1854. This time his parents finally realized that no amount of argument would change their son’s determination to be a painter, and so in the fall of 1855 he left home for the last time, bound for Paris.
Pissarro arrived in time to see the contemporary art on display at Paris’s Universal Exposition, where he was strongly attracted to the paintings of Camille Corot. He began to attend private classes at the École des Beaux-Arts in 1856, and in 1861 he registered as a copyist at the Louvre. He also attended the Académie Suisse, a “free studio,” where he met future Impressionists Claude Monet, Paul Cézanne, and Armand Guillaumin. Through Monet, he also met Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Alfred Sisley.
In these early years in France, Pissarro painted scenes of the West Indies from memory, and he found guidance from Melbye’s brother Anton. Indeed, when he first showed work at the Paris Salon of 1859, Pissarro called himself “Pupil of A. Melbye,” a title he continued to use until 1866. He was also taught informally by Corot, who urged him to paint from nature. Reflecting the influence of Corot, Pissarro’s early paintings usually include a path or river receding in perspective, as well as figures—generally viewed from the back—that give an overall sense of scale. His early works are blonde and green in tonality, however, in contrast to the silvery tonality of Corot’s work.
During this period Pissarro spent time in rural areas such as Montmorency, La Roche-Guyon, and Pontoise, where he could find ample subject matter for landscape painting. This established a lifelong pattern of working outside Paris while also frequently staying in the city. About 1860 he began a relationship with Julie Vellay, his mother’s maid, and in 1863 their first child, Lucien, was born. (The couple married in London in 1871; in all, they would eventually have eight children.)
Pissarro became more and more opposed to the standards of the École des Beaux-Arts and the Academy throughout the 1860s, and he occasionally took part in lively debates with younger artists such as Monet and Renoir at the Café Guérbois. Ten years older than such artists, Pissarro was seen as a father figure, and his fierce arguments about egalitarianism and the inequities of the system of juries and prizes impressed everyone. Although he showed his work at the Paris Salon, he and his colleagues came increasingly to recognize the unfairness of the Salon’s jury system as well as the disadvantages relatively small paintings such as their own had at Salon exhibitions.
Discussions in the art world were interrupted, however, by the outbreak of the Franco-German War in 1870. Pissarro left for London, where he met up with Monet and the dealer Paul Durand-Ruel. Pissarro lived in south London for a time and painted scenes, such as The Crystal Palace, London (1871), of the newly emerging suburbs there. Many years later, he wrote: “Monet and I were very enthusiastic over the London landscapes. Monet worked in the parks, while I, living in Lower Norwood, at that time a charming suburb, studied the effects of fog, snow, and springtime.” On his return to France and his house in Louveciennes, Pissarro discovered that much of the work in his studio had been destroyed by Prussian soldiers.
In 1872 Pissarro moved back to Pontoise, where he gathered a small circle of painters around him, including Guillaumin, and, most importantly, Cézanne, to whom Pissarro demonstrated his method of painting patiently from nature. These lessons caused Cézanne to change his entire approach to art. Later, in 1902, he said of his mentor: “As for old Pissarro, he was a father to me, a man to consult and something like the good Lord.”
The Impressionist Years
In the early 1870s Pissarro devoted a great deal of thought to the idea of creating an alternative to the Salon, a plan he discussed with Monet, Renoir, and others. They devised the idea of a society with a charter based on that of a local bakers’ union, and by January 1874 Pissarro helped found a cooperative along these lines. In April of that year the group held their first exhibition at the studio of the photographer Nadar in Paris, at 35 Boulevard des Capucines, a show that became known as the first Impressionist exhibition. Pissarro showed five paintings at the show, including Hoar Frost, The Old Road to Ennery, Pontoise (1873). Among those who also showed their work were Monet, Renoir, Sisley, Cézanne, Edgar Degas, and Berthe Morisot.
The Impressionist artists shared a desire to record the modern world around them by capturing the transient effects of light and colour. They generally avoided traditional modeling and compositions, focusing instead on texture, tone, and high-keyed colour. Pissarro favoured rural subjects, rather than the modern urban subjects preferred by some of his colleagues, but he shared the other artists’ desire to paint the effects of light falling on objects. His work from this early Impressionist period also displays the loose brushwork and absence of drawing that characterized other Impressionist art at the time.
Pissarro was very disappointed with the public and financial response to the first Impressionist exhibition. He wrote bitterly to the critic Théodore Duret: “Our exhibition goes well. It is a success. The critics destroy us and accuse us of not having studied; I am returning to my work, it is better than reading the reviews.” The artist’s financial plight was desperate, and he was at a low ebb in his personal life: his nine-year-old daughter, Jeanne, had died a week before the exhibition opened.
Pissarro nonetheless remained certain that the group’s independent exhibitions represented the correct path forward. After exploring the idea of another alternative forum for exhibition, called the “Union,” he rejoined the other founder-members of the Impressionist group and showed his work at the second group exhibition, held in April 1876 at the gallery of Durand-Ruel. He showed 12 paintings—among them two painted at Montfoucault, the home of his friend Ludovic Piette—that included spring, summer, and winter landscapes. Once again, his work was criticized. Pissarro’s financial struggles were also increasingly acute. Renoir recalled being turned down by one collector who said: “You are too late. Pissarro has just left, and I have taken a painting of his. A human consideration: he has such a large family. Poor chap!”
By the time of the fourth group show, in 1879, Renoir, Sisley, and Cézanne had withdrawn, and the following year Monet too was absent. Forced to reconsider the future of the exhibitions, Pissarro told the painter Gustave Caillebotte: “We need men of talent—who are deserting us—[and] we also need new pictures. . . . If the best artists slip away, what will become of our artistic union?” Pissarro’s qualms were realized: the sixth and seventh Impressionist exhibitions showed great rifts among the participants, particularly because Degas brought in many new artists. The open-minded Pissarro did not object to these new participants, however, reminding Caillebotte, who was vociferous in his opposition, that Degas had “brought to us Mlle [Mary] Cassatt, [Jean-Louis] Forain, and you [Caillebotte himself].”
Despite the problems plaguing the Impressionist exhibitions, Pissarro remained steadfast in his refusal to return to the Salon. His work during this period was dominated by figure studies, rather than pure landscapes, as seen in Young Peasant Woman Drinking Her Café au Lait (1881). Continuing his role as a mentor, Pissarro patiently worked with the flamboyant young artist Paul Gauguin during this period. His links with Degas and Cassatt were also strong, and together they embarked on a project to produce a monthly journal dedicated to prints entitled Le Jour et la nuit (“Day and Night”). The journal did not materialize, but Pissarro made some fine prints, and Degas wrote to their mutual friend, the printmaker Félix Bracquemond: “Pissarro is delightful in his enthusiasm and faith.”
The Crisis Of Impressionism And Neo-Impressionism
In one of numerous letters to his son Lucien, part of a correspondence lasting 20 years (until Pissarro’s death), the artist wrote in 1883: “I will calmly tread the path I have taken, and try to do my best.” It was difficult to remain calm, however. The collapse of the French economy in the early 1880s meant that Pissarro found it harder than ever to sell work, plus he had become uncertain about the direction his art was taking, using an increasingly small brushstroke and attempting to give his work a greater sense of structure.
In 1884 Pissarro moved from Pontoise to the tiny hamlet of Eragny, on the Epte River. The following year he met the young avant-garde artists Georges Seurat and Paul Signac and became a convert to their new approach to painting, known as Neo-Impressionism. In accordance with this style, Pissarro applied paint to the canvas in dots of contrasting pigments, which the retina would perceive as a single hue. Now in his fifties, Pissarro was still eager to reinvent his art, calling his former colleagues “romantics,” in contrast to his new “scientific” Impressionist colleagues.
The eighth and last Impressionist exhibition in 1886 showed the lack of harmony among the remaining artists, as the work of the Neo-Impressionists was shown separately from that of the others. Moreover, both Monet and Renoir were absent. Seurat showed his enormous A Sunday on La Grande Jatte—1884 (1884–86), which dominated the room that contained Pissarro’s own Neo-Impressionist submissions: nine oil paintings, among them View from My Window, Eragny-sur-Epte (1886–88), as well as gouaches, pastels, and etchings. The Irish critic George Moore’s lack of comprehension of Pissarro’s new work was typical: “Owing to a long and intimate acquaintance with Pissarro and his work, I could distinguish between him and Seurat, but to the ordinary visitor, their pictures were identical.”
Pissarro’s attraction to Neo-Impressionism was short-lived, and starting about 1889 he began to move away from the style, believing it made it “impossible to be true to my sensations and consequently to render life and movement.” At this point, the conditions in the art world that had once made the group exhibitions seem crucial had changed: new galleries were being established and showing the work of avant-garde artists, and, even without the stylistic splits between the painters, Impressionism had run its course. In the end, Pissarro was the only artist associated with the movement to have shown in all eight Impressionist exhibitions.
- Paul Signac
- Childe Hassam
- Anders Zorn
- Claude Lorrain
- Camille Corot
- Pierre Bonnard
- Georges Rouault
- Jacques Villon
- Jean-François Millet
- Narcisse-Virgile Diaz de la Peña
The Last Years: Series Paintings
By 1890 Pissarro believed that he at last understood how to attain the unity in painting he had pursued throughout his career. He wrote about the genesis of this discovery to his niece Esther Isaacson: “I began to understand my sensations and to know what it was that I wanted to do when I was about 40 years old [in the 1870s]—but vaguely.” Others also recognized the development of his work since the height of Impressionism, including the dealer Georges Bernheim, who in 1891 wrote to Pissarro: “Your moment has come!” In 1892 Durand-Ruel held a large and successful retrospective of Pissarro’s work, and for the first time the artist achieved some financial stability.
At this point in his career, when his Impressionist colleagues such as Monet, Renoir, and Sisley were abandoning the subject of the city, Pissarro returned to it with several series of views of Paris, the first from a hotel window opposite the Gare Saint-Lazare, which was the station at which he arrived from Eragny. He also painted serial views of the Rouen Cathedral and the seaport town of Le Havre, working on several canvases simultaneously—a practice also famously pursued by Monet later in his career. Pissarro’s later works are more freely painted than those of the Neo-Impressionist years, and he frequently used a vantage point of an upper-story window. In these works he continued to pursue his long-standing quest to convey impressions of light and colour, but with the added notion that he needed to create more than one painting of each scene to explore and convey the changing effects of light and weather to the fullest extent. He found the unity he had long sought by creating a harmony of colours and tones and by applying a consistent brushstroke across the entire surface of the canvas.
Camille Pissarro was a major figure in the history of Impressionism. His continuing belief in the value of independent group exhibitions and his commitment to representing landscapes under specific weather and light conditions made him, in some ways, the quintessential Impressionist. By the end of his life he was beginning to gain critical recognition and praise, an estimation that continued throughout the 20th century, when critics and scholars consistently acknowledged his place as a key figure in Impressionism.
Pissarro bridged the 19th and 20th centuries in his art and life. Despite his humble nature, Pissarro’s legacy—his unrelenting interest in change, his influence on seminal artists such as Cézanne and Gauguin, and his steadfast opposition to the artistic establishment—powerfully shaped the development of the early 20th-century avant-garde. Kathleen Adler
- Sailing, 1911 – Edward Hopper (1882-1967)
- The Argenteuil Bridge, 1893 – Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894)
- “Red House”, 1921 – Robert Falk (Russian,1886-1958)
- Paul Gustave Fisher, 1909 (1860-1934)
- In the tram compartment, 1927 – Paul Gustave Fisher (1860-1934)
- Sailing Boats at Honfleur,1866 -Claude Monet (1840-1926)
- White Interior, 1905, Carl Moll (1861 – 1945)
- Summer in the garden, 1893 – Theodor von Hoermann(Austrian painter)1840 – 1895
- The Seine at Lavacourt, (1879) – Claude Monet (1840-1926)
- Going to Market,1911 – Peder Mørk Mønsted (1859-1941)
- The Red Madras, 1907 – Henri Matisse (1869-1954)
- Palm Tree at Bordighera, 1884 – Claude Monet (1840-1926)
- Port of Cherbourg, 1918 – Henri Matisse (1869-1954)
- Pianista e giocatori di dama, 1924 – Henri Matisse (1869-1954)
- Violin and guitar, 1913 – Juan Gris (1887-1927)
- Tiber River and Ponte Sisto, 1930 – Béla Kontuly (Hungarian, 1904–83)
- Asters, 1880 – Claude Monet (1840-1926)
- By the River, 1885 – John Singer Sargent (1856-1925)
- On the Canal , 1903-John Singer Sargent (1856-1925)
- The Alpilles with Olive Trees in the Foreground, 1889 -Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)
- The Dinner Hour, 1914-Anna Archer (1859-1935)
- A Windy Day on the Pont des Arts, 1880–81-Jean Béraud (1849-1953)
- Seville Still Life, 1911 – Henri Matisse (1869-1954)
- Seated Woman with Flower, 1942 by Henri Matisse (1869-1954)
- A day of celebration, 1902 – Fanny Brate (1861-1940)
- Women on the Street, 1915-Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938)
- Red and White ,1899 – Edvard Munch (1863-1944)
- The Trinquetaille Bridge, 1888-Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)
- The Red Maple, 1914-A. Y. Jackson (1882-1974)
- “Montague Street, London (Side-view of the British Museum)” (1905-1906) -Vilhelm Hammershøi (Danish, 1864 – 1916)
- “Solskinsinteriør” (1920)-Peter Vilhelm Ilsted (Danish, 1861-1933)
- Woman with Red Hair 1922-Arthur B Carles (1882-1953)
- “Højbro Plads, Copenhagen” 1921-Paul Fischer (Danish,1860–1934)
- The day after (1895) – Edvard Munch (1863-1944)
- Il Mare a les Saintes Maries, 1888-Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)
- El Jaleo (1882) by John Singer Sargent (1856-1925)
The painting El Jaleo (1882) by John Singer Sargent made the artist’s reputation when it was first exhibited at the 1882 Paris Salon. The enormous canvas (237×352 cm) that depicts a flamenco performance became an overnight sensation with French audiences and critics.
The painting is an example of Hispanism, an intricate 19th-century phenomenon in Europe and the United States that refers to a widespread fascination with everything related to Spanish culture. Hispanism had a pervasive influence in different fields. Some famous examples include literary works by Theophile Gautier and Washington Irving, and George Bizet’s opera Carmen that premiered in Paris in 1875. However, for Sargent, who spent the autumn of 1879 in Spain, the subject of flamenco was more than a fashion choice. The trip to Spain was a formative experience: he copied works of old Spanish masters at the Prado Museum and made live sketches of folk dancers. While traveling through Southern Spain, he observed flamenco performances and became particularly fond of Andalusian Gypsy music. Thus, the choice of subject for El Jaleo was likely a combination of the growing market for exotic imagery and the artist’s admiration for Spanish music and dance.
The title El Jaleo refers to the uproar during the performance, when the audience encourages the dancers by clapping and chanting over the guitar music. The artist painted El Jaleo three years after his trip to Spain in a studio in France with the help of professional models, costumes and props. Even though Sargent’s models were neither dancers nor Spaniards, the artist used his memories and knowledge of flamenco to capture an authentic atmosphere of dynamic performance. In this painting, the arrangement of figures conforms to the traditional presentation of flamenco. The performance is set on a small stage, and the dancer has other performers behind her in a line or a semicircle, leaving her little room to move. This setting also allows the musicians to follow the tempo set by the dancer as they play the accompanying music.
In producing El Jaleo Sargent worked methodically to achieve the spontaneity and drama of flamenco. He created many sketches and also the preparatory painting Spanish Dancer (1882). The dancer’s contorted pose is one of the most complex elements, that demonstrates the mastery of the flamenco technique and style. In the same way, the sketch Head and hands of seated musicians (1888) is part of the preliminary studies for the singer on the dancer’s right. The singer is caught amid a moving performance with his mouth wide open and his head thrown back.
After the Salon in Paris, El Jaleo was sold to Thomas Jefferson Coolidge, a retired American diplomat. In 1914, Coolidge gave the painting to his good friend Isabella Stewart Gardner – a leading American art collector, philanthropist, and patron of the arts. The painting was the centerpiece of the music room at the Gardener home in Boston, and today it remains in the city hanging at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.
The Salon (French: Salon), or rarely Paris Salon (French: Salon de Paris [salɔ̃ də paʁi]), beginning in 1667 was the official art exhibition of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Between 1748 and 1890 it was arguably the greatest annual or biennial art event in the Western world.
Flamenco (Spanish pronunciation: [flaˈmeŋko]), in its strictest sense, is an art form based on the various folkloric music traditions of southern Spain in the autonomous community of Andalusia and Murcia. In a wider sense, the term is used to refer to a variety of Spanish musical styles.
Flamenco is a difficult form of art which transmits passion in each of its three components: song, dance and music. It is also a living art which represents a way of perceiving and interpreting life. Because of this, it needs to be continually updated in Spain. … Flamenco and Spanish dance.
The Paradores of Andalusia recognize flamenco as a form of story–telling. … Thestory is so powerful, that in order to be fully understood, it should be told through the body and music. According to the Andalusian people, these stories have been passed down through generations of human experience.
The roots of flamenco, though somewhat mysterious, seem to lie in the Roma migration from Rajasthan (in northwest India) to Spain between the 9th and 14th centuries. These migrants brought with them musical instruments, such as tambourines, bells, and wooden castanets, and an extensive repertoire of songs and dances. In Spain they encountered the rich cultures of the Sephardic Jews and the Moors. Their centuries-long cultural intermingling produced the unique art form known as flamenco.
E&P by Ezorrilla
- Snowy Landscape on the Background of Arles, 1888-Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890)
- Dust Motes Dancing in the Sunbeams, 1900-Vilhelm Hammershøi (Danish, 1864-1916)
- The end of dinner 1913 – Jules Alexandre Grün (French painter) 1868-1934
- Fuchsia in front of a Moonlit Landscape, 1928 – Gabriele Münter (German,1877-1962)
- “Skaters” 1911-Marianne von Werefkin (1860-1938)
- La France , 1939 – Henri Matisse (1869- 1954)
- Figure with Bouquet, 1939 – Henri Matisse (1869- 1954)
- Interior with a Bowl with Red Fish, 1914-Henri Matisse (1869- 1954)
- Children feed the ducks at dawn,1919-Peder Mørk Mønsted (Danish) 1859-1941
- What is Cubism? Art Movements & Styles
Cubism is often referred to as one of the most avant-garde and revolutionary art movements of the modern era… but what is Cubist art and who were the Cubists?
The two main artists who were the ‘inventors’ of Cubism in 1907 were France’s Georges Braque and Spain’s Pablo Picasso. Despite the name, neither of these Cubist’s painted cubes. Instead of painting a figure or object from a fixed position they represented it from multiple viewpoints.
Find out more about Cubism: https://bit.ly/384YLrP Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nationalgall… Twitter: https://twitter.com/NatGalleriesSco Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/natgallerie… Website: https://www.nationalgalleries.org/
- The Music Lesson, 1917 – Henri Matisse (1868-1954)
- “Mrs. Hamilton McKown Twombly,” (Florence Adele Vanderbilt) 1890 – John Singer Sargent (1856-1925)
- His mother, an amateur artist, encouraged him to draw. Her wanderlust furnished him with subjects.
John Singer Sargent (1856–1925)
H. Barbara Weinberg
The American Wing, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The family of John Singer Sargent (1856–1925) had deep roots in New England. His grandfather, Winthrop Sargent IV, descended from one of the oldest colonial families, had failed in the merchant-shipping business in Gloucester, Massachusetts, and had moved his family to Philadelphia. There, his son Fitzwilliam Sargent became a physician and in 1850 married Mary Newbold Singer, daughter of a successful local merchant. The couple left Philadelphia for Europe in late summer 1854, seeking a healthful climate and a distraction after the death a year earlier of their firstborn child. The Sargents’ stay in Europe was meant to be temporary, but they became expatriates, passing winters in Florence, Rome, or Nice and summers in the Alps or other cooler regions. Their son John was born in Florence in January 1856.
John Sargent was given little regular schooling. As a result of his “Baedeker education,” he learned Italian, French, and German. He studied geography, arithmetic, reading, and other disciplines under his father’s tutelage. He also became an accomplished pianist. His mother, an amateur artist, encouraged him to draw, and her wanderlust furnished him with subjects. He enrolled for his first-documented formal art training during the winter of 1873–74 at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence. In spring 1874, Fitzwilliam Sargent resolved to nourish his son’s talent in Paris, which had become the world’s most powerful magnet for art students.
In May 1874, Sargent entered the teaching atelier of a youthful, stylish painter, Carolus-Duran, a leading portraitist in Third Republic France who encouraged his students to paint immediately (rather than make preliminary drawings), to exploit broad planes of viscous pigment, and to preserve the freshness of the sketch in completed works. He also exhorted them to study artists who demonstrated painterly freedom: Frans Hals and Rembrandt; Sir Anthony van Dyck and Sir Joshua Reynolds; and, above all others, the Spanish master Diego Velázquez. The young American moved close to his teacher stylistically and became his protégé. There is almost no work by Sargent, beginning with his successful submissions to the Paris Salons as early as 1877, that does not reflect the manner of Carolus-Duran or the old masters of the painterly tradition.
In May 1876, accompanied by his mother and his sister Emily, Sargent began his first trip to the United States, which would include visits to the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia and Niagara Falls. By autumn 1879, no longer attending classes regularly and concentrating on building his career, Sargent began a period of extensive travel to view works by the old masters and to gather ideas for pictures, visiting Spain, Holland, and Venice. Picturesque locales prompted Sargent to paint genre scenes, which he showed alongside his portraits as he built his reputation. Some of his sun-drenched canvases of the late 1870s bespeak the influence of Claude Monet, whom Sargent seems to have met in Paris as early as 1876 at the second Impressionist exhibition.
Madame Pierre Gautreau (the Louisiana-born Virginie Amélie Avegno; 1859–1915) was known in Paris for her artful appearance. Sargent hoped to enhance his reputation by painting and exhibiting her portrait. Working without a commission but with his sitter’s complicity, he emphasized her daring personal style, showing the right strap of her gown slipping from her shoulder. At the Salon of 1884, the portrait received more ridicule than praise. Sargent repainted the shoulder strap and kept the work for over thirty years. When, eventually, he sold it to the Metropolitan, he commented, “I suppose it is the best thing I have done,” but asked that the Museum disguise the sitter’s name.
Although Sargent painted, showed, and won praise for both portraits and subject pictures at the Salons between 1877 and 1882, commissions for portraits increasingly demanded his attention and defined his reputation. Sargent’s best-known portrait, Madame X(16.53), which he undertook without a commission, enlisted a palette and brushwork derived from Velázquez; a profile view that recalls Titian; and an unmodulated treatment of the face and figure inspired by the style of Édouard Manet and Japanese prints. The picture’s novelty and quality notwithstanding, it was a succès de scandale in the 1884 Salon, provoking criticism for Sargent’s indifference to conventions of pose, modeling, and treatment of space, even twenty years after Manet’s pioneering efforts.
Having gained notoriety rather than fame, Sargent decided that London, where he had thought of settling as early as 1882, would be more hospitable than Paris. In spring 1886, he moved to England for the rest of his life. Fearful that Sargent might sacrifice characterization to a show of “French style,” which they associated with Madame X and, perforce, disliked, English patrons at first withheld commissions. With time and creative energy to spare, Sargent spent several summers engaged in Impressionist projects. These were nourished by his contact with Monet, whom he visited several times at Giverny, beginning in early summer 1885, and by the chance to work outdoors during the summers of 1885 and 1886 in the Cotswolds village of Broadway, Worcestershire.
Sargent’s most ambitious Broadway canvas was the ravishing Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose (Tate Britain, London). The painting’s display at the Royal Academy in 1887 assuaged the doubts of English critics, and its acquisition for the British nation augured well for his career in London. Although English patrons still hesitated to sit for Sargent during the late 1880s, Americans were eager to do so during his visits to the United States between 1887 and 1889. Reassured by the conspicuous quality of Sargent’s portraits, British patrons finally responded with numerous commissions during the 1890s. While his subjects included businessmen and their families, artists, and performers, Sargent flourished particularly as a purveyor of likenesses to the English aristocracy. He maintained a dialogue with tradition, creating grand-manner pendants to family heirlooms by Van Dyck, Reynolds, and others. American patrons also continued to call upon Sargent’s skills.
While the active pose of this figure is like those seen in some of Sargent’s compositions for the Boston Public Library, he painted this sheet with a brilliant immediacy and sensuous vivacity that distinguish it from both the murals and their preparatory studies. The genius of Sargent’s watercolor technique is in his ability to suggest form and detail with just a few strokes. A brilliant example of his mastery and efficiency is his rendering of the figure’s navel. A small oval of paper is left in reserve; above it, a pool of darker pigment gathers, as if by accident, to describe its contours.
After the turn of the century, Sargent grew tired of the demands of portrait painting. He was constantly preoccupied with mural paintings for the Boston Public Library, Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, and the Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library at Harvard University, for which he had received a series of commissions beginning in 1890. Travel studies in watercolor also came to occupy more of his time and became a new source of critical and financial support. Beginning in 1903, he showed such pictures to acclaim in London and New York, stimulating a great demand for them. Sargent engineered his career so astutely that by 1907, when he pledged not to accept any more portrait commissions, he had established a solid reputation as a watercolorist.
Weinberg, H. Barbara. “John Singer Sargent (1856–1925).” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/sarg/hd_sarg.htm (October 2004)
Kilmurray, Elaine, and Richard Ormond, eds. John Singer Sargent. Exhibition catalogue. London: Tate Gallery, 1998.
Additional Essays by H. Barbara Weinberg
- Weinberg, H. Barbara. “American Impressionism.” (October 2004)
- Weinberg, H. Barbara. “Childe Hassam (1859–1935).” (October 2004)
- Weinberg, H. Barbara. “Winslow Homer (1836–1910).” (October 2004)
- Weinberg, H. Barbara. “Mary Stevenson Cassatt (1844–1926).” (October 2004)
- Weinberg, H. Barbara. “William Merritt Chase (1849–1916).” (July 2011)
- Weinberg, H. Barbara. “American Scenes of Everyday Life, 1840–1910.” (September 2009)
- Weinberg, H. Barbara. “James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903).” (April 2010)
- Weinberg, H. Barbara. “The Ashcan School.” (April 2010)
- Weinberg, H. Barbara. “Thomas Eakins (1844–1916): Painting.” (October 2004)
- Weinberg, H. Barbara. “Americans in Paris, 1860–1900.” (October 2006)
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- Landscape, 1907 Auguste Herbin (1882-1960)
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- Van Gogh in Love (Art History Documentary) | Perspective
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