|The Sargent I Knew by Mary Newbold
(Frontpage) (What's New Page) (Refer This Site )
Abbott Lawrence Lowell (1856-1943)
Two months he was in France, painting at the front for the British Government, and on his return to London finished his picture, Gasses, exhibited at the Royal Academy of 1919, and came to Boston that spring staying until the autumn of 1920. He made numbers of black and white portrait drawings, "mugs," he called them, the only portrait of Lady Cholmondeley, one of Sir Philip Sasoon, and the portrait of Dr. Lawrence Lowell, President of Harvard, are among the latest fortunate exceptions to his rule.
Several times Sargent went back and forth between London and Boston. Miss Sargent often came with him, and the Spring of 1925 found them in London, preparing to sail together on Saturday, the 18th of April, for Boston.
The dome was long since finished, and the last decorations for the staircase leading to it were either safely in Boston or on the water. Two portraits, Lady Curzon and Mr. George Macmillan [n/a], had been sent to the Royal Academy, and on Tuesday, the 14th, Sargent made a portrait drawing of Princess Mary. His work was done.
The next day his packing was to begin, a really dreadful undertaking, for he did it himself with thought and care, doing and undoing, dreading and hating it, and enjoying his victories over the pure cussedness of inanimate objects. He dined with his sisters, who had gathered together some of their intimates for a farewell. He was in high spirits, "genial and wonderful," one of his guest wrote, "never in a better form, and waving good night to us as he walked away from Emily's." A shower came on, and Mr. Nelson-Ward overtook him in a taxi and made him drive the short distance to Trite Street. "Au revoir in six months," said Sargent at the door. His servants heard him moving about for a while; after a little the house fell quiet.
And then the end came, "on a midnight without pain," we may believe. In the morning he was found, sitting up on his pillows, reading lamp still burning, an open volume of Voltaire fallen from his hand. Death had found him -- conscious, active, ready; calmly he answered the summons and was gone from us for ever.
What is John Sargent's greatest legacy
to those that come after him? His friends, left poor indeed by his going
from the world he so enriched, might say it is the example of what one
man may be to another, be he kith or kin, in the sureness of honour, loyalty,
and kindliness which John Sargent had in so great a measure that his genius
seemed the lesser part of him in comparison. The world inherits his paintings,
full of colour and beauty, holding the rapture of sunshine and running
water, the wonder and glow of youth, the calm authority and wisdom of riper
years. Under this accomplishment lies the foundation of a single-minded
devotion to a definite end. Some of us still believe that the function
of art is the perpetuation of beauty, and the work that Sargent has left
us testifies to that faith. The servant of beauty, from the early days
when the colour of porphyry stone enthralled him, John Sargent worked to
perpetuate beauty with all the might that was in him to the last day of
his life, and bequeaths to the world his formula.
A Biddable Child | A Musical Genius Spoiled | Painted Diaries | Portrait of Sargent | At the Front in France
Help Me Identify Broken Links