John Singer Sargeant Red Lady

John Singer Sargent at the Tate

At the turn of the last century, to have one’s portrait painted by John Singer Sargent was to say that you had arrived. And now a new exhibition at the Tate has arrived, from Boston, celebrating his work alongside fabulous costumes contemporary to this era.

John Singer Sargeant at the Tate

Wealthy and successful individuals chose Singer-Sargent to portray them as they wished to be seen; self assured, attractive, and elegant . They often came from ‘new’ money, the wives and children of businessmen rather than the aristocracy. But their portraits remind us of the self possession of courtiers and nobles depicted in previous centuries by Velasquez, Van Dyke and Gainsborough.

He was an American expatriate who enjoyed international fame as a portrait painter. One of his first and most famous works, a portrait of Madame X, initially met with hostile reaction in Paris. He moved to England and consolidated his career from London.

John Singer Sargeant Red Lady

Sargent was known for reviewing his clients wardrobe to pick the most suitable attire. His manner of painting silks, satins and velvets was divine, his ladies remind us of languid hot house blooms. Of course, their lives would have been imperfect, but as Van Dyck created a fairytale for the Stuart court so does Singer Sargent for his clientele.

I was lucky enough to be invited, by a colleague, to last night’s evening event at Tate Britain (thank you) and am delighted to give you little preview of this gorgeous exhibition.

It’s the perfect ‘pick me up’ for February and whilst some might say it’s superficial, we all need a little beauty in our lives, it’s good for the soul!