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Portraiture is a demanding art requiring the artist to capture a likeness and render it revealing some hint of the personality behind the image. A two-pronged task, it requires great technical skill and an intuitive eye. In both these respects, John Singer Sargent stands out as a portrait artist of major stature.
Born in 1856 in Florence of American parents, Sargent showed artistic aptitude at an early age and was enrolled at the Academia delle Belle Arti in that city. Later he studied with Parisian artist Carolus Duran, acquiring the loose, painterly style for which he is renowned. International acclaim as a portrait artist came early in his life and followed him throughout his career.
Sargent's portraits done in oil are well known; they appear in major museums throughout the world. A lesser-known but no less respected aspect of his oeuvre, his portrait drawings are the focus of this collection. Included here are early works in pencil and pastels, and later renderings in charcoal, a medium Sargent favored after 1910. They have been selected from both public and private collections by art historian Trevor J. Fairbrother and attest to Sargent's technical skill, versatility, and dexterity in three different mediums.
In addition, these works reveal Sargent's ability to treat a diverse group of subjects; he handles the languorous beauties of the Edwardian age, members of the aristocracy, and the great literary and artistic figures of his day with equal virtuosity, capturing their characteristic mood and style. This collection includes portraits of Lord and Lady Spencer, Henry James, William Butler Yeats, Vaslav Nijimsky, Tamara Karsavina, Dame Ethel Smyth, and Jascha Heifetz.
Artists, students, historians, and lovers of portraiture will appreciate this selection of drawings by Sargent. Anyone interested in trying his hand at portraiture will find this volume both instructional and inspirational.