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John Singer Sargent(1856-1925) A famous American portraitist who painted during the 19th century. Although he studied in Europe during a period of experimentation and avant-garde styles, he came away with a very realistic style. He painted portraits of the rich and aristocratic and gave them a flattering look, usually by painting them in elegant clothing and distinguished poses. He was very popular and was flooded with commissions. After a painting numerous portraits, he began to grow tired of them and focused on murals and larger works.

John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) was born in Florence, Italy to an American family in 1856. He moved to Paris in 1874 to practice under the masterful portraitist Emile Auguste Carolus-Duran. After his apprenticeship, he traveled to Spain to study the works of the country’s great painters, such as Velasquez and Goya. He returned to Paris and displayed his works at the prestigious Salon. When he displayed his daring portrait of Madame Gautreau in 1884, many were outraged, so he moved his studio to London, where he lived for thirty years. Here, he helped found the New English Art Club, where he displayed his works. In 1874, Sargent traveled to Giverny, France to paint with the famous impressionist Claude Monet. He visited America only a few times in his life.

Sargent’s painting style was a mix of traditional techniques with hints of impressionistic, even modern touches. Perhaps these hints were an influence of Sargent’s colleague, Monet. Many art historians point to Sargent’s technique of painting women’s white dresses with broad, arbitrary strokes of paint as the beginnings of modern art. Sargent also experimented with creating stunning depths with light and shadow in the style of Velazquez and Rembrandt.

Many praised Sargent as the most brilliant portrait painter of his time. His works depicted the most affluent, wealthy, glamorous and distinguished members of society during the Gilded Age, including many prominent Americans, such as the wealthy oil entrepreneur John Rockefeller, and Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt. His paintings depict the opulent lifestyles of the rich and famous upper class in America.

Source: Picked up all of this in a standard art history survey class at a university.

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