John Singer Sargent

Overview

The remarkable portraits for which John Singer Sargent is most famous are only one aspect of a career that included landscapes, watercolors, figure subjects, and murals. Even within portraiture, his style ranged from bold experiments to studied formality. And the subjects of his paintings were as varied as his styles, including the leaders of fashionable society, rural laborers, city streets, remote mountains, and the front lines of World War I. This beautiful book surveys and evaluates the extraordinary range of...

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Overview

The remarkable portraits for which John Singer Sargent is most famous are only one aspect of a career that included landscapes, watercolors, figure subjects, and murals. Even within portraiture, his style ranged from bold experiments to studied formality. And the subjects of his paintings were as varied as his styles, including the leaders of fashionable society, rural laborers, city streets, remote mountains, and the front lines of World War I. This beautiful book surveys and evaluates the extraordinary range of Sargent's work, and reproduces 150 of his paintings in color. It accompanies a spectacular international exhibition—the first major retrospective of the artist's career since the memorial exhibitions that followed his death.

Sargent (1856-1925) was a genuinely international figure. Born of American parents, he grew up in Europe and forged his early reputation in Paris. Later, he established himself in England and the United States as the leading portraitist of the day, and traveled widely in North Africa and the Middle East. Contributors to this book assess Sargent's career in three essays. Richard Ormond presents a biographical sketch and, in a second essay, reviews Sargent's development as an artist. Mary Crawford Volk explores his thirty-year involvement with painting murals—in particular the works at the Boston Public Library and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts that Sargent regarded as his greatest achievement.

The book arranges Sargent's paintings into sections that reflect every phase and aspect of his career. We encounter, for example, such famous early works as Oyster Gatherers of Cancale, Sargent's robust and brilliantly lit scene of fishing life in Brittany. We see many of his greatest American and English portraits, including his daringly posed portrait of Bostonian Isabella Stewart Gardner and his audacious painting of Lady Agnew of Lochnaw, which caused a sensation in London in 1893. The book also includes important late works such as Gassed, his monumental painting of soldiers blinded by mustard gas on the western front, and many of his ambitious murals in Boston.

Sargent is a visually stunning, beautifully written, and perceptive work on one of the most important and admired artists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Though some observers now insist that John Singer Sargent did not live up to the promise he exhibited early in his career -- that he took the safe route in specializing in portraits of the upper crust -- there is still to be found in his body of work a great deal of variety. In addition to portraits, Sargent painted landscapes, watercolors, figure subjects, and murals; his subjects included rural laborers, city streets, and the front lines of World War I. John Singer Sargent, the accompanying catalogue to an expansive traveling exhibition of the artist's work, explores in depth Sargent's life and artistic output and includes more than 250 illustrations, 171 in color.
The Bloomsbury Review
Admirers of Sargent will welcome John Singer Sargent and read it with the same relish and thoroughness that went into its writing. It is an intellectual and visual feast.
— Gary Michael
The Bloomsbury Review - Gary Michael
Admirers of Sargent will welcome John Singer Sargent and read it with the same relish and thoroughness that went into its writing. It is an intellectual and visual feast.
From the Publisher
Winner of the Umhoefer Prize for Achievement in Humanities

"This lavish production boasts detailed commentary . . . covering all phases of the artist's career, from his early landscapes to his famous portraits . . . to his late images of the ravages wrought by advancing technology and WWI."—
Publishers Weekly

"Admirers of Sargent will welcome John Singer Sargent and read it with the same relish and thoroughness that went into its writing. It is an intellectual and visual feast."—Gary Michael, The Bloomsbury Review

The Bloomsbury Review
Admirers of Sargent will welcome John Singer Sargent and read it with the same relish and thoroughness that went into its writing. It is an intellectual and visual feast.
— Gary Michael
Alan G. Artner
[The book] encompasses a number of [Sargent's] most famous paintings, reproducing them beautifully in color. . . . The superb introductory essay sets his work against artistic theories of the period. -- Chicago Tribune
Alexander Eliot
Produced as a catalogue for the historic John Singer Sargent exhibition which opened at London's Tate Gallery and is now at Washington's National Gallery, this heavy, splashy tome has 160 color plates, 80 halftones and oodles of satisfyingly informative notes. Its two editors and the four contributors to the volume keep their personal opinions and emotional reactions to themselves. Theirs is not to reason why, but rather to take us on a scholarly gallop down the valley of this flamboyant master's massive oeuvre - including his lovely watercolors and miserable murals as well as the portraits that made his fame. -- Washington Times
Newsday
John Singer Sargent a resident of both Paris and London, was another chronicler of fashion and a servant of the upper classes. The leading portrait painter at the turn of the last century, Sargent had gilded-age society types lining up to subject themselves to his scrutiny. A bevy of actors, bankers and diplomats vied for his favor, as did the architect Richard Morris Hunt and the designer of Central Park, Frederick Law Olmsted. John Singer Sargent, the catalog for last summer's traveling blockbuster, radiantly illuminates the reasons for the portraitist's popularity: He bestowed an aristocratic elegance upon the unrefined nouveau riche, and he ennobled the genuine nobility, elongating a stubby figure or two here, filtering out a hint of horsiness there. Sargent once said: "Women don't ask me to make them beautiful, but you can feel them wanting me to do so all the time." And he indisputably did.
Library Journal
Elegant ladies in flowing ball gowns, titans of industry and angelic upper-class children--these are the images immediately brought to mind in any discussion of Sargent, yet they are but a small part of the artist's work. Published to accompany an exhibition at the Tate Museum and traveling to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, this is an excellent survey of the entire range of Sargent's output, detailing the landscapes, watercolors, and murals (including work at the Boston Public Lirbary) as well as the more familiar portraits. Two prominent Sargent scholars have compiled this valuable record, which includes informative essays on every aspect of the work of this meticulous recorder of the world of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Excellent color illustrations, extensive catalog notations, and the well-written text make this a fitting guide to the first major retrospective exhibition since the artist's death. This is clearly one of the outstanding exhibitions of recent years. Highly recommended for all art and academic libraries and all large public collections.--Paula Frosch, Metropolitan Museum of Art Lib., New York
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691004341
  • Publisher: Tate Gallery, London
  • Publication date: 10/20/1998
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,056,065
  • Product dimensions: 9.51 (w) x 12.02 (h) x 1.02 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword 7
Acknowledgements 9
John Singer Sargent: A Biographical Sketch 11
Sargent's Art 23
Sargent in Public: On the Boston Murals 45
Catalogue
1 Early Landscapes and Subject Pictures 61
2 Paris and the Salon 83
3 Impressionism 105
4 Portraiture in England and America 129
5 The Murals 177
6 Sargent the Watercolourist 209
7 Late Landscapes, Figure Studies and the War 241
Chronology 272
Select Bibliography 278
Index 282
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