Forum Sargent's Paintings -- General  (Frontpage)  (Forum Index)  (What's New)  (Thumbnail Index)
Questions Since June of 2004
Paintings - General  . . . 
Subject: why are some of the charcoal drawings called "mugs" and others are not?
From: Paul Darby 
darby  and 
Date:  Sat, 22 May 2004 

Dear Natasha, 

Out of curiosity - why are some of the charcoal drawings called "mugs" and others are not?

From: Natasha

That's a great question Paul. The easy answer is that I'm just not very consistent in labeling. In fact, there are no Mugs which are officially entitled with the word "Mug" in them -- that I've seen anyway -- this is purely my convention. Though I should quickly add that it was Sargent who would call these quick charcoal close-up portrait drawings "Mugs" himself and would refer to them as such in his correspondence. 

When I first started giving file names to images of artwork I would use the painting title for the file name but  apparently there are a number of works with the same name (preparatory sketches, oil studies, or just a second version of a portrait, for example) I began adding the word "Mug" in the title as it mirrored the file name and it made it easy for me to distinguish between what the artwork was. 

Although it may appear, out of context, that the title might be  editorializing of the sitter, it was really more self deprecation  on the part of Sargent and what he considered to be low art at best or certainly not of the level of a "serious" artist -- in many instances he held great affection for the sitter. But they were what they were (in his eyes) regardless of the sitter, quick simple gestures given almost as if they were party favors or a way to dodge a pleading patron pressing for an oil portrait commission -- they were just his Mugs.


Copyright 1999-2004 Natasha Wallace all rights reserved
Updated 06/19/2004