I think I sat on this a little bit longer than I should have, because I expected this exhibit to be up for a couple more months instead of ending this coming weekend. My bad! You are advised to act fast and make it to The Met to take in Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends before it closes next Sunday! Here are a few of my favorite paintings from the show, along with background on what you’ll see!
Throughout his career, the celebrated American painter John Singer Sargent (1856–1925) created exceptional portraits of artists, writers, actors, dancers, and musicians, many of whom were his close friends. As a group, these portraits — many of which were not commissioned — are often highly charged, intimate, witty, idiosyncratic, and more experimental than his formal portraiture. Brilliant works of art and penetrating character studies, they are also records of relationships, influences, aspirations, and allegiances.
Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends brings together ninety-two of the artist’s paintings and drawings of members of his impressive artistic circle. The individuals seen through Sargent’s eyes represent a range of leading figures in the creative arts of the time such as artists Claude Monet and Auguste Rodin, writers Robert Louis Stevenson and Henry James, and the actor Ellen Terry, among others.
The exhibition features some of Sargent’s most celebrated full-length portraits (Dr. Pozzi at Home, Hammer Museum), his dazzling subject paintings created in the Italian countryside (Group with Parasols [Siesta], private collection), and brilliant watercolors (In the Generalife, The Metropolitan Museum of Art) alongside lesser-known portrait sketches of his intimate friends (Vernon Lee, 1881, Tate). The exhibition explores the friendships between Sargent and his artistic sitters, as well as the significance of these relationships to his life and art.
The story of Sargent’s relationship with each of his subjects is posted next to each painting and it is such a fascinating history lesson and a rapturous trip back in time to imagine what life must have been like for these people. What’s even more exciting is that photography is allowed, and that almost never happens, so please try to see this exhibit before it closes.
Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends, will be on Exhibit Through October 4th, 2015 in Gallery 999 of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Located at 1000 Fifth Ave at 81st Street, New York, NY.