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I’ve mentioned John Singer Sargent, the American painter who was born on this day in 1856, a couple of times before (here and here). Both times, I used the word “depth” in the title of the post and I think this word describes his portrait work very well. At his very best, he painted people’s essence rather than their likeness. This isn’t easy.

Largely known as a realist portrait painter, he frequently produced paintings involving numerous other subjects and styles. His landscape At Calcot, below,  clearly shows the influence of Impressionism. This isn’t surprising since he counted Claude Monet among his friends.

At Calcot (John Singer Sargent, 1888)

At Calcot (John Singer Sargent, 1888)

He was also fond of the genteel genre scenes popular during his creative prime, many of which he rendered in watercolor. The Garden Wall below is a good example.

The Garden Wall (John Singer Sargent, 1910)

The Garden Wall (John Singer Sargent, 1910)

Sargent was a prolific artist, producing nearly 3,000 paintings (mostly watercolor) and a large number of charcoal sketches before dying in 1925. His work covers a wide range of subjects and, like many artists, attracted both praise and scorn. Love his or hate him, his skill is undeniable.

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