eBook: Download Sargents Women Lives Behind Canvas ePub (MOBI, PDF) + Audio Version


  • File Size: 22287 KB
  • Print Length: 326 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (August 22, 2017)
  • Publication Date: August 22, 2017
  • Language: English

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I had been fortunate to receive an Advanced Reading Copy of this book.

3. 5 Stars

John Singer Sargent has long been my favorite American painter. I first became fascinated with his work in the early 80's and was lucky enough to have been able to view the large Whitney Museum of American Artwork retrospective of Sargent's work back in 1986. One thing which was evident from his massive production is that Sargent had tremendous natural facility that is often overlooked by his being brushed off as merely a high society portraitist. Like many musicians before him, Sargent colored commissioned portraits on the Continent, in England, and in the United Says, to make a living. These kinds of funded his peregrinations, documented in exquisite watercolours, herbal oils, and simple sketches, through Southern Europe, North Africa, and the Middle Far east. His society portraits, lots of which look as if they have got captured characters straight out of an Edith Wharton novel, run the gamut from an honor to Velazquez (The Children of Edward Darley Boit, 1882) to the notoriously scandal-imbued Madame X (Virginie Amé lie Avegno, Madame Pierre Gautreau, in a portrait that pretty much ruined her life). Sargent, an American expat who grew up in Uk and European society, could blend smoothly into high society and, until the " petite gaffe" with Virginie Gautreau at the Paris Salon exhibition in 1884, enjoyed a reputation of pleasurable discretion. His / her reputation badly frayed after the Paris Salon of 1884, he departed Rome with the painting in tow. Sargent quickly recovered his reputation in the uk and the US, taking on a number of his best known portraits. (Virginie, on the other hand, withdrew from society and though later commissioned portraits by Courtois and de la Gandara, never recovered her reputation, and was separated from her husband at the woman death. An interested viewer can get the short version here or check out there the book Strapless. )

Modern viewers of Sargent's portraits may look at them and wonder who exactly these people were. While male subjects often had public lives and accessible biographies, far less is often available about his female subjects. Lucey has given us short biographies of four of Sargent's American female subject matter, all of whom emerged from a number of America's most privileged families. (Presumably American-born Virginie was excluded since she has already been the subject of another publication? ) Detailing the lives of Elsie Palmer, Elizabeth Winthrop Chanler, the Fairchild sisters, Sally (subject of several portraits) and Lucia (subject of none) and the iconoclast, Isabella Stewart Gardner, Lucey captures the lives of these women, particularly centering on the time frame when we were holding painted by Sargent.

As the chapter devoted to Elsie Palmer was interesting, providing information about the Palmer family, the Aesthetic Movement at Ightham Mote, and Glen Eyrie, I came across the chapter on the Fairchild sisters to be quite odd. Although Sally Fairchild was the object of any number of portraits by Sargent including a blue-veiled portrait now in a private collection, the majority of the chapter is about the woman sister Lucia, presumed too homely by Sargent to bother painting, and who had been herself a painter. So very little information is provided about Sally's life that I found her selection for the book to be rather disappointing.

The part on Elizabeth Winthrop Chanler, later Mrs. John The writer Chapman, was the most interesting to me. Filled up with pathos, one feels the poignancy of her early on childhood and youth, and the tinge of scandal with her late marital life with her deceased best friend Minna Timmins' husband David Jay Chapman, who was the great love of her life, even when Timmins was still still living. This was a moving biographical sketch.

Isabella Stewart Gardner needs no real introduction to Sargent followers, or to Bostonians. She has been the subject of several books (a point which only makes me question the exemption of Virginie Gautreau and inclusion of Sally Fairchild) This was an interesting chapter providing a brief biographical sketch of Belle Gardner, or Mrs. Jack, as she was also known. She was both Sargent's consumer and friend. This full of life woman had a great impact on art, privately collecting works by some of history's greatest artists. (Sadly, a number of them are equally famous for being part of art history's greatest fraud, a 1990 robbery of 13 works from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, a art gallery whose security is greatly constrained by the terms of Gardner's bequest creating the museum. Although recently there is a sign there may be a little more movement on resolving the heist case. )

I came across the descriptions of the paintings by Lucey to be interesting and I'm not sure I always agreed together. Elsie Palmer's painting, Young Lady in White feels almost preternaturally still and constrained, perhaps presaging her decades of being caught between two very different worlds (elite English society favored by her mother and a more rural Colorado lifestyle favored by her father) and her being shackled to a caregiver role in her family while her younger sister 2 engaged in an extramarital relationship with the married man that Elsie loved. This portrait is currently on loan from the Colorado Fine Arts Center to Ightham Mote, in Kent, though December 2017. The Sally Fairchild painting favored by Lucey, that of the woman in a blue veil, while striking, reflects the truth that we don't really learn much about Sally in this book. This family portrait is also now in a private collection (as are the other two pictures of her) so except if it is loaned for an exhibit at a major institution, the viewer is not likely to see it face-to-face. She remains rather obscured to the reader. The beautiful portrait of Elizabeth Winthrop Chanler, one of Sargent's better known portraits, now held by the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American Art, speaks to me less of " innocence" than of the woman great personal strength and resolve. Sargent's popularity of his subject is palpable in this portrait. Undoubtedly the similar health struggles discussed by Elizabeth and Sargent's sister Emily fueled his empathy for Elizabeth. The prime of life family portrait of Isabella Stewart Gardner depicts her powerful persona against a backdrop that would suit a renaissance painting. This painting, of course, remains on display at the Isabella Stewart Garner Museum in Boston. Sargent's delicate watercolor of the woman in dotage, swathed in white, is powerful to me than the top olive oil painting of her in her prime. It absolutely was pressing that he painted the woman again, something that without doubt gave her pleasure. I actually do have to say however, much as I love Sargent, when I think of Mrs. Jack, I'm more inclined to think of her in the style of the dramatic pose in the Anders Zorn painting, also on display in that museum.

All in all, I found the publication to be a pleasurable read. Those searching for a resource of more of Sargent than his subjects may be disappointed to see little of Sargent here, but I found the publication, particularly the Chanler part, to be commendable for giving us a tale to pair with these pretty society women, in whose single job and worth were tethered to making a powerful marriage and retaining social position. Just read was real women, with real lives, loves and heartaches.

Readers thinking about perusing more of Sargent's catalog should see the virtual museum of his work at the jssgallery dot org., Have you ever looked at a portrait and wondered who the person was and what their life was like? Had they been chosen as a topic to pose for the designer or had they chosen the artist to portray them? Was the family portrait done because the subject was famous or the artist was? A family portrait can bring so many questions to mind about both the subject and the artist. Portraits are - hands down - my absolute favorite fine art. (You will keep your French haystacks; give me an interesting face any old time! )

Donna Lucey has written " Sargent's Ladies: Four Lives Behind the Canvas". She delves into the lives of four women - all painted first around the 1890's - who were either painted by John Singer Sargent or - in one case - had a sister who was. Lucey - who has written about the Gilded Age both in the US and the UK in previous books - select four women out from the many painted by Sargent in his long career. The minor problem with the book is the choice of the four women she chose to come up with. All four were similar - wealthy young women from prominent American families who were as at home in English high society as we were holding in the rarefied air of Boston and New York City. (Though Lucey does explain the amusing variations involving the two American cities. )

This would be helpful if you has some knowledge of the artist David Singer Sargent - American-born, British-bred - and the times he painted in. Photographic portraits had started to be popular by the 1880's, but colored portraits still reigned since the popular method for protecting this issue forever in fine art. Sargent was hired by many prominent families at the time to paint themselves and their children. Some subjects - Isabella Stewart Gardner, for occasion - were painted more than once in their lifetimes. Sargent painted other subjects but having been most famous for his pictures.

Donna Lucey does a good job at looking at the lives - most led somewhat restricted lives because of their sex, their familial circumstances, or their health. Two gained fame due to imaginative endeavors - one collected art and the other was obviously a painter of peinture - while the other two lived quieter lives. John Singer Sargent experienced a tenuous reference to a couple of the women; his having painted their portraits looked like there was the only link. With the two others, he was a little more in their lives. As I was reading Lucey's book, however, I didn't want to help but wish that she had maybe chosen someone other than Isabella Stewart Gardner to emphasize. Her life story is pretty well known. I'd have liked to have read about a woman, who like the previous 3, weren't well-known. But, alright, here's the thing. The author has the directly to choose who she would like to write about. Just like a portrait designer has the right to paint whoever he chooses - financial considerations aside. And Donna Lucey has written a good publication about the lives at the rear of the canvas., Loved this book! I had been familiar with Sargent's work together earlier read Strapless about the 'real' Madam X.
This book delves into the lives of 4 unique women who commissioned his work. I must admit which i kept my iPhone handy so I could reference the numerous additional people and works of art mentioned. It is an eye opening look into the world of the wealthy during the nineteenth century and an personal view of the women behind their portraits., This book was right upward my alley. I'm a sucker for biographies, history, and society, plus I love Sargent.
It doesn't fail at all. In fact it was so much better than I thought or could have hoped for.
Ms. Lucey tells the storyline of each of the women with incredible detail, but not too much to overburden you. Each women on their own has a fascinating story for Ms. Lucey to tell.
I knew a little bit about 3 of the 4 figures in the book, but I couldn't put this book down.
I hope this writer continues to write. I would definitely purchase the woman books in the future!, I really enjoyed this book. The four biographies give attention to interesting women and Lucey will a wonderful job of exploring their lives while weaving in Sargent's interactions with them. I only wish the book comprised more pictures. I read the hardcover with my iPad next to myself so I could periodically lookup for the locations, photographs, and paintings Lucey explains.

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Sargents Women Lives Behind Canvas
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