Lecture Series - Affluence & Allusion: The Life & Art of John Singer Sargent

January 10, 2022

If you are unable to attend the live session, do not worry - all those who register will automatically be sent copies of the lectures to view in your own time (from around four hours after it takes place).

Affluence & Allusion: The Life & Art of John Singer Sargent
JH USA Cole Tomas Oxbow Web           
Born in Florence to American parents, John Singer Sargent (1856 – 1925) was celebrated as a cosmopolitan expatriate painter of international renown. His lucrative career inspired comparisons to Velazquez, Van Dyck, Reynolds and Manet whilst his extraordinary technical ability produced a remarkable body of varied work over many decades. Having mastered academic painting in his early maturity, his style broadened from an excessive refinement to the use of broad masses of colour, articulated via light and shadow.

Initially, Sargeant settled in Paris before moving to England permanently. Thereafter, multiple Atlantic crossings and regular visits to the continent broadened his range. Fresh and informal compositions in landscape and genre painting garnered admiration and new clients eclipsing his rivals. Sargent’s artistic legacy undoubtedly remains that of a master of the Grand Manner portrait - he captured figures as they wanted to be seen with vivid flair at the cusp of modernity amidst Edwardian-era luxury.

Over the course of two lectures James Hill will introduce John Singer Sargent’s remarkable life and career through his greatest paintings and lesser-known works. The influences which shaped his style, his close circle and the contemporaries he courted both within the art world and the fashionable society of the time on both sides of the Atlantic will be explored.
Tuesday 25 January, 11 am 
Lecture 1 – Cultivating the Pose: The Grand Manner Portrait
Sargent’s art was best expressed in portraiture, the mainstay of his long career. He possessed an acute eye for composition with a daring flair for vivid gestures and sharp profiles. Alluding to the Old Master portrait painters, he borrowed from the past and produced dazzling, modern aristocratic portraits where swagger, attitude and persona were flaunted. Patrons clamoured for his portraits as he could confidently place them within their cultural milieu, indeed at the centre of their world. Similarly, his group portraits though depicting apparent stillness, often contained a dramatic intensity, whether the subjects provoked sentiment or suppressed it.
Wednesday 26 January, 11 am 
Lecture 2 – Out of Doors: Responding to the World
John Singer Sargent was at the centre of a cultural shift as the American art world looked towards Europe with London and Paris acting as its expatriate hubs. Though Sargent had received formal French academic training, he imbibed the Impressionists’ revelatory use of colour and light. He never fully adopted the group’s technical methods, but their shared plein-air activity anticipated Sargent’s outdoor work. His extensive travels, particularly to the Alps and Italy, North Africa and the Near East amply demonstrate his growing mastery. In North America his work in both landscape and as a mural artist, complimented his itinerant lifestyle as he attained lyrical heights in technique and subject. While World War 1 interrupted his life-long habits, yet his art treated the sombre subject matter with the same sense of bravura at the end of his long life and glittering career.

Format for Lecture

James will give two one-hour illustrated lectures for £23.00. During the lecture you will have the chance to submit written questions which James will answer at the end - if time permits.

You will not need to download any software and the lecture will work in any browser. For the best experience use a desktop or laptop - but it will also work on an iPad or similar tablet. You will be also able to re-watch or watch a recording after the lecture.


             Click here to register for lectures


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