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John Singer Sargent letters, 1887-1922

John Singer Sargent letters, 1887-1922

Sargent, John Singer, 1856-1925

Muralist, Sculptor, Painter, Printmaker

The papers of painter John Singer Sargent were digitized in 2006 by the Archives of American Art. The papers have been scanned in their entirety, and total 286 images.

Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Collection Information

Size: 107 items (0.2 linear ft.)

Summary: The John Singer Sargent letters consist of 104 letters dating from 1887 to 1922. The letters provide limited insight into Sargent's later career through letters to commissioned patrons, sitters, and friends and colleagues, and relate to works in progress, replies to social invitations, and other general social news. Many of the letters are written to Mrs. Charles Hunter, an English friend and patron who sat for several portraits. Also found are letters from Sargent to friend Edith Blaney, whose husband was landscape artist Dwight Blaney. Additional scattered letters were written to Henry Mills Alden, Lawrence Barrett, Mrs. Baxter, a Mr. Griffith, Sir George Hunter, Mrs. Jackson, Louisa P. Loring, Henry Gurdon Marquand, Mrs. Pick, Mr. Spizer, and unidentified/illegible recipients. There are two photographs of Sargent.

Biographical/Historical Note

John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) was a portrait painter from London, England. He was born in Florence and educated in Europe. Portrayed members of high society and aristocracy and became one of the most sought after portraitists of his day.

Provenance

Letters were donated to the Archives by Charles Feinberg, 1956; purchased from King V. Hostick, an autograph dealer in 1957; and purchased at auction in 1968. The Archives microfilmed the letters upon receipt. The collection was processed and digitized in 2007.

Related Materials

Funding

Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

A Finding Aid to the John Singer Sargent Letters,
1887-1922
, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.sargjohn
Author
Finding aid prepared by Erin Corley
Biographical Note
John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) was born in Florence, Italy to American Parents, Dr. Fitzwilliam Sargent and Mary Newbold Singer Sargent of Philadelphia. During his childhood the family traveled Europe extensively, often spending summers in Switzerland and winters in Italy. Sargent began drawing and painting at an early age, helping in the studio of Carl Welsch in 1868, attending the Accademia delle Belle Arti in Florence in 1873, studying at Carolus-Duran's atelier and the studio of James Carroll Beckwith and finally attending the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1875. Sargent quickly gained recognition for his paintings, receiving honors for his works at the Salon and the Society of American Artists. During this period he visited the studios of many prominent artists working in Europe, including John Everett Millais, Frederic Leighton, and Claude Monet and also became friends with Henry James.
Influenced by Frans Hals and Velazquez, Sargent became a very successful portrait painter, acquiring many French patrons and later even more American clients. His most famous work,
Mme Gautreau
, known as 'Madame X', was denounced by the Salon in 1884 for its provocative modernism. After this scandal he moved from Paris to London, and in 1887 visited the United States, where he was treated as a celebrity. He visited again in 1890 and established studios in New York and Boston, in addition to his studio in London. He also accepted a commission to do a series of murals in the Boston Public Library which wasn't completed and installed until 1916. In 1891 he traveled to Egypt, Greece, and Turkey - travels that inspired his later paintings. By 1900 Sargent was the leading society portrait painter on an international level and was known for using modern styles of lighting, poses, and settings. In addition to many other honors he became a full member of the Royal Academy in London and the National Academy of Design in New York.
In 1907 Sargent decided to give up his portrait studios and focus on murals and landscape studies. In 1918 he became a war artist for the Ministry of Information and in 1924 had his first retrospective exhibition at Grand Central Art Galleries in New York. Sargent remained unmarried and died in his sleep in 1925 at the age of 69.
Arrangement
The collection is arranged into 1 series:
Series 1: John Singer Sargent Letters, 1887-1922 (Box 1; 0.2 linear feet)
Due to the small size of this collection, the letters are arranged alphabetically by name of correspondent into one series of 18 folders. Items within each folder are arranged chronologically .
Scope and Content Note
The John Singer Sargent letters consist of 104 letters dating from 1887 to 1922. The letters provide limited insight into his later career through letters to commissioned patrons, sitters, and friends and colleagues. Topics covered include works in progress, replies to social invitations, and other general social news. Many of the letters are written to Mrs. Charles Hunter, an English friend and patron who sat for several portraits. Also found are letters from Sargent to friend Edith Blaney, whose husband was landscape artist Dwight Blaney. Additional scattered letters were written to Henry Mills Alden, Lawrence Barrett, Mrs. Baxter, a Mr. Griffith, Sir George Hunter, Mrs. Jackson, Louisa P. Loring, Henry Gurdon Marquand, Mrs. Pick, Mr. Spizer, and unidentified/illegible recepients. There are two photographs of Sargent.
Provenance
Letters were donated to the Archives by Charles Feinberg, 1956; purchased from King V. Hostick, an autograph dealer in 1957; and purchased at auction in 1968. The Archives microfilmed the letters upon receipt. The collection was processed and digitized in 2007.
Related Material
Related collections available at the Archives of American Art include the F. W. Sargent papers (John Singer Sargent's father), which include correspondence with his son, available on reel D317. Also found is the R. L. Ormond material relating to John Singer Sargent, available on microfilm reels 1407 and 1820, and "Recollections of John Singer Sargent," a typescript and recording of an interview of Sargent's model Anton Kamp, available on microfilm reel 5002. Other collections were loaned to the Archives of American Art for microfilming and returned to the owner, including the Charles Jackson Paine letters from John Singer Sargent, available on reel 2542, and the John Singer Sargent letter to Mrs. Henry White, available on reel 647.
Processing Information
The John Singer Sargent letters received minimal processing shortly after accessioning and were microfilmed in multiple accessions on reels D10 and 3471. The collection was fully processed, arranged and described by Erin Corley, and scanned in 2006, with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Additional Forms Available

The collection has been digitized and is available online via AAA's website.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

John Singer Sargent letters, 1887-1922. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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