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Subject: first anesthesia operation?
From: Paul Wesel 

I live in Boston and, as you know, ther is currently at the MFA an exhibit on Sargent. What I came to your site for, however, to find out if Sargent painted a scene depicting the first Anesthesia operation (at Mass. Gen. Hospital). If it wasn''t Sargent, do you know who did it? I remember the painting, but not the artist. This is a fabulous site, by the way. You deserve  . . .  (note ends)


I don't know about that -- you're not  thinking of the The Gross Clinic, 1875, by Thomas Eakins, another wonderful American Realist Painter, 1844-1916, could you?

But this was at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where Eakins studied anatomy.

-- Nat

From: Wonsug Jung

I think I have found the answer to the question from Paul Wesel.

The plate is from Cambridge illustrated history Medicine by Roy Potter, and instead of quoting I just scanned its legend with it.

Subject: Alexander Cassatt 
From: Carl Westerdahl 

Did Sargent paint a portrait of Alexander Cassatt, Mary Cassatt''s brother?


I think he did,  -- Nat


Mary Cassatt is the one that painted her bother, not Sargent. -- Nat


I was right the first time, Although his sister painted him, Sargent did as well. He painted Alexander Cassatt in 1903 and as of 1927 it was owned by Penn. Railroad. I don't know where it's at now.

From: Baker, William
willi  ab> 
Date: Sat, 21 Dec 2002 

Portrait painting of A. J. Cassatt, President of the Pennsylvania Railroad and brother of Mary Cassatt.  Links two of the great painters of the 19th century and the booming economy of the Golden Age in America.  Interesting comparison of the portrait of A. J. and his son Kelso done my Mary C.  It is in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Subject: More on Sargent's Life
From:  Hester

Am very interested in life of JSS.  Any suggestions of where to start?

Revised 4/21/99

There have been three full biographies of Sargent. The first was done in 1927 by Hon. Evan Charteris, shortly after Sargent's death. He was a good friend of Sargent and as a result was able to get a large number of people to open up to him. Charteris was also a painter of sorts, as I understand it. All subsequent biographies have quoted and sourced Charteris' book extensively. This book is a must for any serious scholar.

The second one was written by Charles Merrill Mount in 1957 with the last addition coming out in 1969. It is a much more complete biography filling in a huge number of holes left by Charteris.

The most resent Biography (and one that's still in print) was written by Stanley Olson, John Singer Sargent, His Portrait, 1986, St. Martins Press. It has had the benefit of the previous two books and the benefit of more historical perspective.

All three books are great. 

For just a good read of his life, Olson's book is probably the best and is the product of reportedly six years of research (and it shows). All three books bring to the table different strengths that aren't quite duplicated in the others. All three have few pictures and assume you know his body of work -- (that you know what the paintings look like). My site helps a great deal as a companion to these wonderful books.

Of the table-top survey books I've read regarding his life, John Singer Sargentby Carter Ratcliff, Abbeville Press, New York, 1982 is a good one for looking at his life as well as his art. This book is geared much more towards his paintings though, but it gives a good mix of both and is a wonderful overview of all the major periods of his paintings (the quality of the pictures aren't as good as some of the others and there are some minor inaccuracies of fact). What I enjoyed most about this book, as far as his life is concerned, is in the appendix where there is a section called Selected Writings on Sargent which feature letters and magazine articles all written from people that knew him -- these are just wonderful. 


Subject: Any new discovered watercolors?
From: Anonymous

Are there ever any new watercolors discovered (he did hundreds) that come out of private collections and what does it take to get them authenticated?

That's a great two part question and I'll answer the first here.

I'm sure there are previously undiscovered paintings that have surfaced but I can't speak with authority.  As you can tell, I have just over 300 ] images of sargent's work [now well over 900. In fact, Sargent did over 2,000 water colors, in addition to his many many oils numbering over 900 and it just goes to show you just how incomplete my gallery is.

I would love to hear from someone else on this matter.


Subject: Street in Venice
From: Alan L. Caldwell


My daughter has the Sargent print: Street in Venice. . . I'm a person who sees the glass half full rather than half empty and viewed the young girl as a nice young girl returning home after a late night party and dance. My daughter thinks she is a prostitute. Maybe so but in all of Sargent's paintings I never saw the seamy side of life. .  .What could your insight tell me about this. 

Natasha, I informed my daughter of your wonderful analysis of the "Street in Venice" and she was really happy my version was more correct. Although she had picked wrong she, too, is a half full glass young lady. I think I saw there were post cards available with that painting but I wonder if there are
prints available. If so, I would be interested in information about them -
size and cost.




Alan, take a look at my re-write on Street in Venice -- Nat


I bet she is at that, Alan and I paraphrased your meaning at the painting site.

What interested me about your question was that when I fist saw this painting I, like your daughter, thought she might have been a prostitute. So it got me thinking -- there might be a lot more people out there thinking the same thing.

You can order 11" x 14" from The National Gallery for very reasonable.

As regarding posters: see posters.

Subject: Image Rights 
From: Cassandra

Are sargent''s works now in the public domain? 


All images at the John Singer Sargent Virtual are here under the ďFair UseĒ law for educational purposes only. You can NOT use these images for any commercial purposes without first contacting the owners of the rights of the image and in most cases thatís the museums in which it resides.

As I understand it, if an artist has been dead more than seventy years, his or her work is in the public domain. Sargent died in 1925 so therefore I assume his paintings are now in the public domain -- However, reproduction rights of a specific photograph -- such as a professional photograph of a painting for a museum are NOT in the public domain. You can go take a picture yourself and do what ever you want with it.

From what I understand, one of the best placed to license the rights to images of public domain works is Art Resource

-- Natasha

Subject: El Jaleo
From: Wonsug Jung

what is the meaning of El Jaleo?


Wonsug, take a look at my write-up of El Jaleo
-- Nat

Subject: biography of JSS by C M Mount? 
From: Wonsug Jung

Can you help me with the biography of JSS by C M Mount? I heard there are 3 different edition '55 and '57 and '69. I understand '57 is an abridged edition and also lacks a footnotes, but each edition includes update. So my question is whether '69 is abridged edition and if not it would be the best edition since it has everything in '55 edition and an update with it. I want this information because I'm considering purchasing this title at a used bookstore.


I haven't seen this book so can't speak about it, Can anyone else help?

From Bert

Regarding Wonsug's query about the C. M. Mount Sargent biography (Although I'm sure he's sorted it out by now) 

I currently have the first edition - 1955 - out from the library. Below is the citation from the Library of Congress for the 3rd Edition 

    Author: Mount, Charles Merrill. 
    Title: John Singer Sargent; a biography. Edition: [3d ed.] 
    Published: New York, Norton. New York, Kraus Reprint Co., 1969 [c1955] 
    Description: xv, 490 p. illus., ports. 24 cm. LC Call No.: ND237.S3 M6 1969 
    Dewey No.: 759.13 B 
    Notes: Bibliographical references included in "Notes" (p. 403-426) 
    Subjects: Sargent, John Singer, 1856-1925. Control No.: 76094542 
The 1955 edition has 464 pages but if I add the 24 pages of illustrations it reaches 488 pages.  The first edition has the Biblio references between p. 403-226  just as the 3rd edition has. 

It's a fine book but I'm hardly one to make a scholarly judgement as to its true merit. 

Incidentally, as I told you, it lists chronologically all of Sargents oils  divided into portraits and non-portraits. 

I counted them of course and there are 530 portraits listed and 452 non portraits for a grand total of 982 oils. 

Subject: The Four Doctors
From: Simon Nayler -- 
sim on

Dear Natasha

Can you help me. I am trying to find out more about the Sargent painting entitled: "Members of The First Clinical Faculty of Johns Hopkins"  ie when was it painted and who are the four faculty members therein.I am a South Africa Doctor interested in the history of Medicine and art in medicine.


Simon Nayle

Subject: The Four Doctors 
From: "Guy J. Petruzzelli" 
g  pe>
Date: Sun, 03 Sep 2000 18:18:10 -0500

JS Sargent was commissioned [to paint The Four Doctors] The painting, along with a JSS portrait of the donor Mary Garrett are on display at the Alan Mason Chesney Medcial Archives at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. It shows the four pillars of American medicine Osler, Halsted, Welch and Kelly. I believe the painting is on display in the Welch Memorial Library at Johns Hopkins. Is it also available on the web?

Thanks for your help.
Guy J. Petruzzelli, MD, PhD

From: Wonsug Jung

Here's the answer to Simon's question. It's title is a rather simple "The Four Doctors". According to Charteris' catalogue it was painted in 1906, but Mount thinks it was painted in 1905. Here's a quote from W.H.Downes, John.S.Sargent His life and work

    This great portrait group of four distinguished members of the faculty of the medical school of Johns Hopkins University, Doctor William H. Welch, Doctor William Osler, Doctor William Halsted, and Doctor Howard Kelly, was painted in London in 1906.
His book includes comments from contemporary press, and they are...
    Where else in the present day shall we find heads painted like these? -The Spectator

    A marvellously fine composition... The dextrous way in which the artist has used the hoods, the books, and the globe to relieve the gloom of gowns and backgrounds is beyond praise. -London Times 

    Touches on absolute mastery within the limits of its aims. ...The masses of black are strong and elastic in structure, and each brush stroke is directly descriptive of surface character. The background is nobly handled, and the execution throughout of a power and insight that belie the rather photographic arrangement of the subject. -The Athenaeum 

    It is a great portrait, because of its sound workmanship and the stamp of originality that is upon it. -Royal Cortissoz

From Natasha

Simon, can you scan and send me the picture of this so I can post it?

From Natasha

Dear Guy,

No I havenít as of yet been able to find an image of the Four Doctors online. There is a black and white image of the painting in Patricia Hills book (see Bibliography) and in that she identifies the painting this way:

The Four Doctors
The Welch Medical Library of The Johns Hopkins Institutions, Baltimore
Oil on canvas
327.7 x 271.8 cm (129 x 107 in.)

The painting is large and very much in the Grand Master style of arrangement. All four doctors are cloaked in their long dark flowing robes of honor. Three sit at a small book table. The fourth doctor is standing behind with his hand on an open text. There is a large world globe behind them (larger than you can put your arms around) and the room is adorned in dark wood panel walls as if we are in the inner most sanctum of the most august sanctuary for these great men.


Subject: Woodrow Wilson portrait 
From: Mr. S. Grogan 
Biz  n az

Do you have any information on that painting, perhaps it is hanging in the White House. I have two "onion skin" woodcut prints of Sargent's Wilson, done by artist Timothy Cole, and signed in pencil by Sargent and Cole. I am planning on selling them both through eBay...

Mr. S. Grogan 

From Natasha

In 1917 JSS paints the portrait of President Woodrow Wilson and he does it for the benefit of the Red Cross. There is a nice account of him doing it in Evan Charteris book. 

I had thought of any picture that would be available on the net, this would be one of them, but it's not owned by the US government and its not at the White House. Some months back my internet search turned up that it was held in a museum in Ireland, and they don't have a image of it online. Now, how it got to Ireland, I have no idea.

If your looking for an image of it, most of the Sargent books that have image plates have this painting included.


The reason why the Portrait of Wilson is in Ireland is answered in JSS' own words. He explains it in a letter to Mrs Gardner that he wrote about the time of the portrait.

All I know is that Hugh Lane took up an idea started by another man (who repented) that he would give 10,000 pounds to the Red Cross if I would paint his portrait (the first man's). Hugh Lane of course had some other idea about whose portrait it was to be. Then Hugh Lane was drowned [in the Lusitania]. He had left his estate to the Nat. Gallery of Ireland, who had handed over the 10,000 pounds to the Red Cross in 1916 and have lately decided the portrait should be that of President Wilson.

(P. 255 Olson, letter from JSS to Mrs. Gardner)

Subject: Black Brook 
From: Jack White 

Do you know of any Sargent book that contains this painting ?

Regards, Fellow Sargent Lover,

Jack White


In regards to "The Black Brook" I incorrectly called it "Black Brook"

Sargent did two paintings of this brook (that I know of -- I'm taking this from memory)  Black Brook and  The Black Brook If I remember right, Black Brook didn't have any people in it. 

Yes I have seen Black Brook, but I'm at a loss to remember which book or where I saw it. For myself, I have only seen The Black Brook online -- Nat


Subject: Sargent's Method of Painting
From: Jack White 

What is the best book or other that deals with Sargent's Painting Methods both in oil and watercolor?

[ . . . and if I might add, what IS Sargent's Method -- both oil and watercolors]


Further to My Q Regarding Sargent's Methods

I  read a book some time ago about American watercolor painters, especially Sargent, Homer, and Marin. In it the author spoke quite extensively about Sargent's use of such methods as wax resist. etc.

I can't remember the book but maybe someone else can help me



Subject: Great book on JSS Watercolor method
From: Jack White

Jack White

I finally found the book that discusses Sargent's watercolor painting methods. It is "Awash In Color - Homer, Sargent And The Great America Watercolor" by Sue Welsh Reed and Carol Troyen


Jack White


From Natasha

That is a fantastic question, Jack!!

There is a whole chapter (maybe even two, can't remember)  on the Method of Sargent's painting in Evan Charteris book, its very well written. As I understand it, Charteris himself was an artist, though not all that successful -- much more successful as a writer for he wrote a number of biographies. 

Within the chapter he explains the  influences of the Spanish Master Velazquez, the Dutch  Master Frans Hals, and goes into nice detail about how Carolus-Duran taught and then how Sargent differed from this. He explains the methodology of the importance of tone, light and shade over forms (as was taught in the more classical schools). There are also accounts of how Sargent tutored other students, and  what other students said he told them about what Sargent felt were the most important. Charteris book is geared more towards Sargent's oils.

Most of the other books I read touch on it but not as indepth (that i found) as Charteris does in his book.

I personally feel more than a bit shaky, not having any formal training in painting myself, in trying to explain Sargent's Method. I would LOVE to hear from anyone else on this.

Regarding watercolors I haven't found that much, but there was a wonderful anecdote about the way Sargent painted his watercolors which I copied and included in my Portrait of Miss Eliza Wedgewood, 1905, and written by Mary Newbold Patterson Hale, a cousin of John's in Boston, who as a young girl would follow John everywhere to watch him paint from work on  the Boston Public Library Murals in his studio to outdoors with him when he painted in plein air (that quote was, in turn, quoted in Ratcliff's book). 

From Natasha


You might be thinking of 

    Ferber, Linda; and Gallati, Barbara                 Dayer;  Masters of Color and Light -- Homer, Sargent and the American Watercolor Movement. The Brooklyn Museum of Art, 1998, pp. 117-141
I read it last September, but it I don't remember it going into much depth regarding Sargent's Method. The use of  Wax Resist is fascinating method and in many ways Sargent was brilliant at combining different ways and styles of doing things. The only place that I recall this mentioned (on my site) is Granada a watercolor JSS did sometime between 1895-1912. Sargent at Harvard has a pretty good image of this; and Muddy Alligators, a 1917 watercolor JSS did in Florida .

Subject: Wax Resist
From: Natasha

Footnote 51 from Patricia Hill's book, page 248, chapter written by Annette Blaugrund

Sargent seems to have begun using wax for masking as early as 1907; the technique served the purpose of masking the white of the paper or a wash of color from succeeding paint applications; Sargent probably scraped the wax off when the process was finished, for no raised surfaces are discernible. My thanks to Marjorie Cohn, conservator at the Fogg Art Museum and co-author of Wash and Gouache for identifying the waxed areas for me. It was she and Andrea Kaliski, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Fine Arts at Harvard University, who first noted Sargent's use of wax.


From: Natasha

Thanks Jack, I checked my library and they have it. I'll check it and let you know what I think. Feel free to comment on your take if you feel so inclined.



Subject: Sargent's Method -- article in American Artist magazine
From: Judith Q Barnett <
jud ithqba>
Date: Fri, 9 Mar 2001

Natasha -

Thank you for your wonderful website.  It's a treasure trove for an artist like me. 

You might want to pass on the best on Sargents technique that I've ever come across. It comes out of American Artist magazine- August, 1999-page 20-27. The article is by Jacqueline Ridge and Joyce Townsend from the conservation dept. at the Tate Museum and it examines several paintings from the Wertheimer series  as well as the less formal "Vernon Lee". There are excellent photos accompanying by way of explanation. His palette of colors and procedures are described in more detail than Charteris or Olson. I believe one of his student-friends    -Julie Heyneman  who died in 1942 might have published notes taken  during her  studies with him. I haven't located anything on it however. Maybe somebody out there knows more on this.

From: Lucille Schur 
Date: Mon, 18 Nov 2002 

I have a little more to add to the talk on American Artist Mag article on Sargent. I have been fortunate to attend talks given by Richard Ormond and he told us about the original article which appears in 'APOLLO' vol #48 issue 439,  1998. pp.23-30.  I have been unable to obtain this copy. The American Artist /Aug 1999 is a GREAT  read. 
Do you know how we could get a transcript or copy of the Apollo magazine? I think it is a British publication? 

From: Natasha


Thank you very much. I didn't know about that article and will look for it when I hit the library next time. Since the time I made the comments above I've added Mark Roberts report on the painting technique of "The Misses Vickers" which I'm sure you will enjoy.

Best regards


Subject: Mr. Charles Deering Portait info
From Phillip 

Do you have any information on any portraits of Mr. Charles Deering painted by John Singer Sargent?  Please let me know I'm researching.   Thanks.

Do you have an image of the painting you can send me? I don't have any information -- Nat


Charles Deering was a patron and friend of JSS and was chairman of International Harvesters Company. He paints his portrait in 1876 and his wife in 1877 (posthumously). in 1917 when JSS goes to Florida he stays at Charles Deering house at Brickell Point and then at his brothers house. It is here in Florida that he does Muddy Alligators and others watercolors. 

This is all in Stanley Olson's biography. Charles Merrill Mount doesn't list the paintings neither does Charteris. Olson doesn't have a list of paintings.

Please keep me informed on what you find out. -- Nat

Subject: Did JSS teach in Boston?
From: Sherie
she riez
Date 6-5-00

Great web site. I''m trying to find out when he, for a brief time, offered lessons in the Boston or
NY area. Do you know anything of this?


Thanks Sherie,

JS Sargent taught at the Royal Academy in London, he didnít formally teach anywhere else (that I know of). He would, on occasion, tutor art students, give advice, all on an adhoc basis as I understand it, and he most certainly did this in Boston. So to answer your question he didnít formally teach formally in Boston or New York, to my knowledge.

Take this as a working thesis and not as a definitive statement. 


Anyone else?

Subject:  Did he paint Queen Victoria
From: DM un 
Date:  Sun, 17 Sep 2000 14:35:18 EDT

Did Sargent ever paint Queen Victoria?   I have a small portrait 2"x3 1/2" painted for her majesty's Diamond Jubilee 1837-1897.    I cannot make out the first initial on the painting but Sargent is very clear.


From: Natasha
Date: Sat, 22 Feb 2003 

According to information just recently found at Oxford, Bodleian Library by Wendy & Gordon Hawksley, apparently Sargent drew a "mug" Caricature of the queen which was in the collection of Elizabeth, Lady Lewis (and her husband Sir George Lewis).

As to a possible oil painting? Still looking.

Subject: The amazing Rita Lydig
From: Stephanie <>
Date: 3/13/2001

Jump to letter

Subject: Did Sargent resist the Euopean influence?
From: Natasha Lolljee 
Nat ashalo 
Date: 4/23/01

Dear Natasha,
How are you?  My name is Natasha and I'm currently at Kansas University, on exchange from Staffordshire England, would you be able to tell me, How Sargent took on board a European influence yet resisted it?  This is part of a five thousand word essay I have to write on American Art I have managed with the other but I am having problems pin pointing Sergeant's main resistance, to the European art movement, this would be a great help even if you send me a word back, as it is sending me round the bend. 

Yours Sincerely 

Natasha Lolljee

From: Natasha Lolljee
Date: 4/26/01

Dear Natasha W,

Thank you for the quick reply, but I have realized what the teacher was questioning and that it was or still is just me becoming far too stressed with end of year work and having to work out how I am going to be packing all my things to go home.  I realized that yes Sargent does not resist European movements and that as you said he was far too European for some Americans liking and therefore this answers one quarter of my paper as it asks how were American painters and Sculptures influenced yet resisted European movements of the period, 1900-1945? I was looking for both parts and could not see that  Sargent is a prime example of an American artist who took on fully European influence.  Though I'm sure you can understand it is such a broad period to write about that amongst all the information anyone can become over engaged and unable to focus correctly.  Really I think I was feeling rather confused about it all.

Thank you ever so much, your website is extremely attentive to detail and is utilized in a good manner,  easily understandable,  especially for the likes of me.

Yours Sincerely

Natasha Lolljee.

From Natasha

Dear Natasha,

I'm not in the habit of writing student's papers, but I certainly understand your bewilderment in this question posed to you by your professor. I haven't the foggiest idea what he/she's driving at. You must not be posing the question correctly or God help you because I don't know what left field their coming out of. Sargent reeked of European influences in his art. I don't know what he/she means by "yet resisted it."  In fact the biggest criticism of Sargent after his death (from young Americans) was that he was really more European than American. . . . . unless your prof is talking about Sargent's citizenship? He would never give up his US citizenship, jealously held onto it and coveted it. 

Go jayhawks!! (University of Kansas mascot)

-- Nat

From: Natasha

Good luck Natasha L. I hope you enjoyed your time in Lawrence


Natasha W

Subject: George Randolph Barse & did the feminist movement influence Sargent?
From : Stephanie 
Je  nj 
Date: 4/27/01

Natasha, [I'm doing] some research on an obscure American artist, George Randolph Barse.  I have a webpage on him, but I don't have complete information about him.  Also, I wanted you to check out his painting, "America".  In that painting, there's a woman in chains kneeling down.  I would like to think that was his wife, Rosina, but there's a possibility that the woman could be some other model.

I have a question for you, did the feminist movement influenced John Singer Sargent's attitude toward women?  Did he also favor women's sufferage?  I hope to hear from you soon.



From : Stephanie
Date 5/11/01

Regarding the House of Mirth, I haven't seen it yet.  When I have the chance to rent the video and review the movie, I'll tell you about it.  Since I'm also a big Edith Wharton fan, I'll see the movie.  . . .I love her novels about upper middle class life and how she chafed at the limitations that were put upon women of her class. She didn't like being hedged in by society's rules which said that women of her class shouldn't write for profit, have careers, or have a life of her own, yet Edith opposed the suffragette movement for some reason I can't explain right now.  An upper class lady was also expected to be a walking advertisement to their successful fathers or husbands. As for John's attitude toward Lily, I think he would be somewhat sympathetic to her to the point of pity. 


From Natasha
Date: 5/10/01

Did the feminist movement influenced John Singer Sargent's attitude toward women? . . . .  Well, . . . .  That's a toughie. The short answer is probably no, it didn't. The problem in answering something like this is first (it would seem to me) we would have to know what John's attitude toward women was prior to any "influencing" and then know what John's attitude towards women was afterwards. I'm not sure that we really know what his attitude was in either case. I think you have to measure a person against his contemporaries. And even there, I'm not sure if I know if he was progressive for his time or not. Two things we know for certain: 1) John was utterly apolitical and 2) John was a confirmed bachelor. Both of these points probably do not bode well for any notion of him being at the forefront of a women's moment. 

Not only did he not show any interest in politics, but in Evan Charteris's observations in his book, John showed an astonishing naivete towards political problems and issues. Just off  the top of my head, I remember Charteris mentioning Sargent remarkable ignorance of the complexity, magnitude and implications of World War I and the total lack of understanding over the Irish independence movement. Politics, for the most part, is local and John was a world citizen His life revolved around art, music and theater. The people he enjoyed the most were artists, musicians and actors.  And none of that had anything to do with recognized political boundaries or political turf. Art for him was a human endeavor shared by all and he explored it to its depth and complexity in all its cultures and in all its beauty. He went about his life, studying art, all over Europe, North Africa, North America, irregardless of Franco-Prussia War ( 1870-71), the Russo-Turkish Wars, The Spanish American war, the seemingly endless regional conflicts in Italy until it's consolidation. At the beginning of WWI he had no concept of the magnitude of "total war" and was perplexed why he couldn't just continue with his life, like he always had.

When a woman suffragette attached Sargent's portrait of Henry James in 1914 by slashing it with a knife while it was on public display,  in an attempt to bring notice to the cause, Evan Charteris (who knew Sargent personally) treats the incident in his biography as an annoyance. I think we can probably infer that John probably felt similarly.

For Sargent, and the affluent women he associated with -- their world was flush with options, choices, and opportunities (relatively speaking) as was his -- as long as they all had money. To John (as I see it) the feminist movement was probably a non-issue

Unless, of course, you're  Lily Bart in the movie The House of Mirth [now on video] based on Edith Wharton's novel by the same name (a full text version of the book is online). And here I'm going to lose a lot of people that haven't read it or seen it. But both the movie and book are a scathing condemnation of the world in which Sargent and Edith Wharton lived -- the affluent socialites which he painted (and in particular New York socialites). In every scene you can sense Sargent kind of hovering (not as one of  the main characters) but on the fringe, just out of camera shot, standing in the shadows at parties, the trips to the Mediterranean, and the opulent houses of the very rich money barons. I don't think Sargent bought into it completely, but he was certainly seduced by it -- the money and the power. This movie is all about options, choices, and opportunities which are slowly slipping away from Lily Bart who is a woman of modest affluence. 

The movie isn't for everyone. Men will probably hate it. This is an unabashed chick flick. I loved it and I cried (though this was not a happy movie and with very unsympathetic characters).  I can really sense, in the pacing of the film (which some will find unbearably slow) actually a quite believable depiction of the world in which Sargent lived -- at least when it came to some of his patrons. You can see his portraits all over the place -- in the way they dress, in the way they handle themselves and the manner of their speech (the dialogue of the movie was lifted directly from the the text of the book in many cases) and compare that with the manner of speech of the women in the hattery (matter of fact, direct, too the point). 

In the sense of this movie you can understand the venom with which Roger Fry's words criticized Sargent. It really had nothing to do with him personally (nor his art -- I think) but what his art stood for, in Fry's eyes. Though I don't think John bought into that society completely, and he certainly grew tired of it and tried to quite painting portraits around 1906/1907. "No more paughtraits," he wrote his friend Ralph Curtis. "I abhor and abjure them and hope never to do another especially of the Upper Classes." (Quoted in Charteris, p. 155) But he never really could distance himself from it either. His fall from grace after his death, had everything to do with the backlash of the Gilded age from which he found himself inseparable.

For me, if I could take your question and narrow it a bit: what would Sargent have felt about Lily Bart? And that, we may never know.

Editor's Note:

Sargent knew Edith Wharton who was also an expatriate living in Europe and its very probable that he knew of, if not actually read "The House of Mirth".  Within the book there is a cameo reference to Sargent (though under a fictitious name) of the society artist who was painting the women of the "in" crowed of New York society - the world from which Edith Wharton came. The movie deletes the reference of the artist but you can feel his presence nevertheless.

Subject: Bram Stoker and the Lyceum Theater 
From: "Jim Moody" 
c oyo>
Date: Mon, 28 May 2001 

I am doing research on Bram Stoker and have come across some information suggesting that Sargent was not only a member of the Lyceum Theater "In" crowd, but that he painted Florence Balcombe Stoker, Bram Stoker's wife. Do you have any information confirming this.

There's also a story that Sargent and Florence Stoker were "an item" that caused Bram Stoker some considerable angst, but I can't find anything other
than contemporary gossip that even hints that this was true.

By the way, I absolutely love your website. It's given me a whole new appreciation of Sargent's work and I intend, once I'm through with this Stoker research, to search out some of his works and view them in person. Wonderful job.

Jim Moody, PhD.
Clark College
Vancouver, WA 98685, USA


Editor's Note --

"Bram Stoker (1847-1912), a British author, wrote Dracula (1897), one of the most famous horror stories of all time. . . Stoker wrote other novels and some nonfiction, but none of his other books approached the success of Dracula. 

Abraham Stoker was born in Dublin, Ireland. He was theater manager for actor Sir Henry Irving and wrote 'Personal Reminiscences of Henry Irving' (1906)."

(David Geherin, "Stoker, Bram," World Book Online Americas Edition,, 2001)

From: Natasha
Date May 31, 2001

Dear Jim,

In December of 1887 Sargent attends the first night of Macbeth at the Lyceum Theater with the actors Henry Irving and Ellen Terry in the leading roles. In 1889 he did a painting of sir Henry Irving (which has since been destroyed) and one of Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth which Henry Irving owned and loaned to the World Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893 (now owned by the Tate gallery, London).

Yes I think he was very much in with the "in" crowed at the lyceum and since Stoker was Irving's manager, it seems very probable that Sargent was friends of theirs as well. Nothing I have shows a portrait of Florence Balcombe Stoker nor any mention of Stoker, let alone a rumor of a possible affair. There were numerous rumors about different women and none had much credence other than idle gossip (if you want to read more about that see Love Life). It's hard to imagine such a significant name being left out of the list of Sargent's paintings. He probably did a charcoal "Mug" of her which he did scads of for friends and clients. I don't have a list of those.

This is really interesting and if you want to keep me posted on what you find out in any regards to Sargent or his connection to your subject I would be most appreciative

Thanks for you kind words



Subejct: Joseph Jaboben & painting slides
From: Ja xN

Do you have any information on the painting, Portrait of Joseph Jaboben (spelling?) done in 1904, owned by the Art Museum of Ontario, currently at the Appleton Museum, Ocala, Fl, at opening on Sept 8. Thank you

I am preparing a lecture on the life and work of Sargent. Do you know where I can get slides of his work? Thank you.

From Natasha

The info on Joseph Jaboben, I don't know. Try writing the museum.

About slides -- that's going to be a tough. You see all the slides of the various art works which hang in museums are all going to be copyrighted, you need to contact each museum individually

Subject: Paintings exhibited at International Exposition of 1889
From: Russell Mackie
R uss  ell >
Date: Wed, 3 Oct 2001 

I am a college student at San Jose State University.  I am doing research on the International Exposition of 1889.  In your website you mention that John Singer Sargent displayed six paintings at this exposition.  If you happen to know which paintings he displayed there I would greatly appreciate you sending me that information. 
Thank you so much for developing this website and for any help you can give me! 

Russell Mackie 

From Natasha
Date: Wed, 3 Oct 2001 

What a fantastic question. It's one of the reasons why I haven't finished a web page on the Exposition of 1889. Right now I simply don't know which paintings he exhibited.

I'll tell you what, you let me know which books on Sargent you have at your libraries near you and I'll tell you which don't mention it.

Maybe someone else can dig this up for us.


Subject: ID this Thumbnail
From: Scott   <
bl indc>
Date: 13 Nov 2001 

Hi Natasha : )
How are you doing this fine evening? I was wondering if you might be able to answer a question for me? I'm more of a literature buff than art critic, but the cover of a recent edition of "The Age of Innocence" has caught my eye. The good people of Simon & Schuster have presented me with quite a task, however! The cover credit of their paperback simply says: "Cover painting by John Singer Sargent." I'm afraid I spent a long (albeit enjoyable!) time searching your website for this particular painting (seen below)- but with no luck! This beautiful young woman is nowhere to be found in your chronology of thumbnails. She has, however, succeeded in capturing my interest and I would very much like to know who she was. Perhaps you know the name of this piece? Or where I might purchase a print?
Thanks for your help!

Gratefully Yours, 



From: Natasha

You know it looks familiar but I'm drawing a blank. Someone else will surely spot this one and help out



From: Natasha 
Date: Sun, 3 Feb 2002 

I found your name for you. She's Lady Astor.

Subject: Sargent's Paris Haunts
From: William Forward <
w for> 
Date :  Sun, 27 Jan 2002 

dear natasha,

i'm soon on my way to paris and wondering if any of the haunts of jss's early years are still standing. i'm thinking of carolus-duran's atelier, sargent's first studio (shared with beckwith), etc. is it worth trying to follow the trail?

william forward

From: William Forward 
w fo>  
Date: Sat, 02 Feb 2002 

Dear Natasha,

While I'm afraid boyhood is past, I'm up to the task in spirit, and I happily accept my mission. It may drive my family a little crazy, but I can't wait to steal away and track down whatever remnants I can find, digital camera and notebook in hand. My list of likely sites now includes the Boulevard Berthier studio, Carolus-Duran's atelier, the Sargent/Beckwith studio, and the boarding house where JSS lived while a student. If you have any other thoughts, I'd love to hear them.

your deputy,

Bill Forward

PS -- just to fill you in a little, I'm an actor and painter (primarily portraits), living in Los Angeles.

Editor's Note -- Natasha asked if he had the addresses of the various places.

From: William Forward 
w fo>  
Date: Mon, 04 Feb 2002 

Here's what I have so far:

Carolus-Duran's atelier was at 81 boulevard Montparnasse. (My impression is that it was upstairs).

The studio Sargent and Beckwith shared was at 73 bis, rue Notre Dame des Champs. (I'm not exactly sure what "bis" means, but it's something like 73a -- Augustus St. Gaudens had the studio at 49 rue N.D. des C., apparently very close by).

At least early on, JSS lived in a boarding house at 19 rue de l'Odeon.

The studio at 41 boulevard Berthier appears to have been, coincidentally, at 41 blvd Berthier.

And that's what I've got, gleaned from the various books. I'm assuming they're good and hoping busy bureaucrats haven't messed with the numbers in the intervening years. We'll see.


From: Natasha
Date 28, Jan, 2002

Dear William,

if you were hoping I might be a wet blanket, you sure came to the wrong person. I think it's a capital idea. I'm afraid, though, I haven't a clue as to whether they are still there or not. You are hereby deputized as an official correspondent of the JSS Gallery, so go forth with camera and stencil pad and report back of your findings.

Good luck my dear boy, and bring back a trophy


From Natasha
Date: Tue, 04 Feb 2002 

Sounds like you got it all under control. I would assume pretty much everything is close to the Latin Quarter, and he probably walked everywhere so it can't be that dispersed. The The Ecole des Beaux-Arts might have something on Sargent and Carolus-Duran's atelier, but taking the time to find the right person to ask might be more than your poor family could bare -- if they try to get you committed (your family) I'll pass around a hat and see if we can scrape up a few dollars to spring you. 

Have fun, and I look forward to hearing from you.


Editor's Note -- Yet another JSS Gallery agent on the job to serve you better

Subject: When will Late Portraits be published
From: James Tennison
j  a>
Date: Sun, 3 Feb 2002 


Do you have any information about when the "Late Portraits" catalogue raisonne will be published?

I have really enjoyed your website, by the way.


Late portraits is the second in a series of "comprehensive" volumes published on Sargent. The first in the series was entitled "John Singer Sargent: The Early Portraits (The Complete Paintings , Vol. 1)

From: Natasha

I heard from a third party that it should be coming out in the Spring of 2003

Subject: Princess Demidoff 
From: Alexandre Tissot Demidoff 
Ale  xti 
Date: Tue, 5 Mar 2002 
Dear Ms. Natasha, 

Your web site is strong and your passion comes through very clear! 

I am most interested in a painting from 1895 or 96 of Princess Demidoff that is currently at the Museum of Toledo.  I believe that the Princess Demidoff  is the wife of Prince Paul P. Demidoff, Second Prince of San Donato, Princess Helene P. Demidoff. 

She would have been 44 at the time of the painting.  Her eldest daughter and my great grandmother, Aurore P. Demidoff, Princess of San Donato, would only have been 22. 

This is a new discovery for me and I am interested in confirming the identity of the Demidoff princess and how it made its way to the Museum of Toledo.  . . . 

Many thanks in advance for any guidance extended. 

Kind regards, 
Alexandre Tissot Demidoff 

From: Natasha


What can you tell me about San Donato? Is this the little village Tuscany,  Italy?

The Museum of Toledo's web developer gets nothing but jeers and boos from me. You may or may not know that Sargent's painting of Princess Demidoff is up on their website, but I can't get a thumbnail of the image for my site, nor can I directly link to it. In fact, it is so convoluted (the rout by which to find it) that you will have to do all kinds of computer gymnastics to get to it. Let me know if you can't find it.

Certainly the museum would have information on the painting, when it was purchased, and biographical information on Princess Demidoff , herself.  

can get me an image of the painting (maybe mail me a postcard of her if they have it) and tell us a little bit about the person. I don't really know anything about her. Certainly there is a little family lore about the person -- a tidbit -- a small insight that the family would know which wouldn't be available to the general public. The more the better, of course.

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