Artist in Focus - John Singer Sargent

Born in Florence in 1856 to American parents, John Singer Sargent spent a nomadic childhood before going to Paris to study with the progressive academic artist, Emile Carolu-Duran. He quickly surpassed his master, and by the 1880s Sargent had began the steady climb to fame that ultimately placed him at the centre of his society, with a formidable circle of friends and colleagues that included Henry James, Claude Monet and James Whistler.

His name brings to mind paintings of society belles in satin and lace, of powerful brooding industrialists and their families - brilliant portraits executed with a dazzling technical virtuosity that made him one of the most popular painters of the day. Sargent was a quiet, enigmatic man and his range was much greater than supposed as he devoted much of his time to the art of water-colour, escaping the demands of his wealthy patrons whenever he could to capture the beauty of the European and American landscapes in a spontaneous, vibrant style.

Sargent died in 1925 of a degenerative heart disease and was buried in Woking, England. Memorial services were held both in London, at Westminster Abbey and in Boston, and exhibitions the following year in the Metropolitan Museum, New York and at the Royal Academy, London, show the high regard in which he was held.

He will be the subject of a major exhibition at London’s Tate Gallery in 2024.

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