He is best known for his portrait of Madame X (Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY). I truly feel Sargent is in a class of his own when it comes to portraiture. Take for example, "Daughters of Edward Darley Boit," from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Painted in 1882, it has been said to be a modern version of Velázquez’s "Las Meninas," from the Prado Museum in Madrid, painted in 1656. I have aptly coined the style (tongue in cheek), "Portraiture With Attitude."
If you study the "Daughters" painting, you will see how Sargent captures the innocence and curiosity of a child as well as the indifferent attitude of teenagers. If you were to visit the MFA in Boston, you will see two enormous blue and white Chinese vases similar to those in the painting.
In "Las Meninas," the Infanta Dona Margarita doesn’t want to pose either. As she shows attitude, the "meninas" or "ladies in waiting" are trying to persuade her to sit for the artist. The dwarfs are there to amuse her. As far as we know, the official family portrait, with her parents the King and Queen, was never painted.
In both paintings we see the personalities of the individuals captured on canvas. Undoubtedly, Velázquez influenced Sargent with his technique of the use of depth, dark tones, and shading with a source of light in the far distance.
See them both and make a comparison of both paintings for yourself!
You may enjoy reading this article about an exhibit I saw at the MFA in Boston:
If you've visited the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston or would like to study the collection, I highly recommend "Masterpiece Paintings: From the Museum of Fine Arts,Boston." Available here from Amazon.com.
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