Sargent, John Singer(American, 1856-1925)
Raised by expatriate parents and traveling for much of his childhood, John Singer Sargent eventually settled in England where he was most noted for his portraits. Sargent’s style was remarkable for its day, and Richard Ormond of Oxford Art Online notes that his bold and unique style set him apart from the majority of the more conventional artists of the day. His compositions were often derided by critics as too modern in both France and England, but Singer was never for want of work and his reputation soon grew to the point where portraiture commissions in Boston and New York came to be almost as lucrative as those in Europe.
His style and brushwork was very much influenced by Velazquez, who he studied during a visit to Spain in 1879. Sargent concentrated on portrait painting, acquiring a favorable reputation that allowed him to paint many of the rich and famous of the day. His portraits are elegant compositions that afford the viewer a certain amount of insight into the sitter’s personality and disposition. They are most often very close on the subject but do allow for a sense of space and regularly feature upholstered armchairs and wallpaper with ornate floral patterns.
Works Cited:
Ormond, Richard. “Sargent, John Singer,” in Oxford Art Online.

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