John Singer Sargent's Man with a White Turban
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Man with a White Turban
John Singer Sargent -- American painter 
1890 - 1895
Fogg Art Museum, Boston
Oil on canvas
93.98 cm. x 66.04 cm., actual
Gift of Mrs. Francis Ormond, 1937.202
Jpg: Harvard University Art Museums



These were accessioned in 1990, using 1937 accession numbers [Editor's Note - what's up with that? ]. First set of dimensions given above are image dimensions; second set are dimensions of new stretcher. Curatorial file contains unpublished paper by Lydia Vagts, Conservation Intern, and article by M. Kingsbury. From Timothy Burgard's First Sight label: These [1937.200, .201, .202] and seven other oil studies in the collection served as preparatory studies for John Singer Sargent's Boston Public Library murals (1890-1916). The Boston Public Library embodies the ideals of "American Renaissance" architects and artists who appropriated historical styles in order to equate late nineteenth-century America with the aspirations and achievements of the European Renaissance. Sargent's wall and ceiling murals for the Special Libraries stairway hall depict subjects from the pre-Christian and Christian eras to form a history of religion. Sargent's subject reflects the persistence of an artistic hierarchy that assigned greater value to history subjects than to the portraits that dominated Sargent's artistic practice. The mural format reveals the influence of the Renaissance mural cycles that Sargent would have known from his native Florence and his extensive Italian travels. Soon after receiving the Library mural commission in 1890, Sargent sought additional inspiration through an extended trip (1890-91) to North Africa, Egypt, Turkey, and Greece. The three studies exhibited here almost certainly created during this trip, resemble but are not identical with the propehets who herald the Christian era in the pre-Christian section of the Library mural. They represent Sargent's cultural appropriation of Middle Eastern subjects as characteristic "types" who were perceived to have changed little since the Biblical era and thus were valued for their historical and religious associations.

Exhibition History:

First Sight: Newly Conserved Works at the Fogg, Harvard University Art Museums, 09/04/93-10/17/93, Cambridge, MA


Burgard, Timothy, Dates, Dates these c.1890/c.1891, when Sargent toured North Africa, Turkey, Egypt and Greece. See Notes field.


Elaine Kilmurray and Richard Ormond, John Singer Sargent, exh. cat., Tate Gallery Publishing (London, England, 1998), p. 189, under no. 78

Sargent, John Singer (Creator). Created c. 1890-c. 1891, To his sisters, Emily Sargent and Mrs. Francis Ormond, at his death 1925.

Sargent, Emily, and Mrs. Francis Ormond (Owner). From their brother, the artist, at his death 1925, Gift of Mrs. Ormond to the Fogg Art Museum 1937.

By:  Natasha Wallace
Copyright 1998-2005 all rights reserved
Created 2/26/2004