Saturday, 3 September 2011

The French Influence.

Right back from sailing and it’s poring with rain in West Wales and I can’t get out painting so I thought I would continue with Sargent.

As I outlined in the previous post the Sargent family had sufficient wealth to lead a life of leisure and travel, consequently Johns education was sporadic. A short period with an English clergyman in Nice and some more formal education in Dresden where John briefly studied Latin, Greek, mathematics, geography, history and German. 
He was also enrolled at the Accademia delle Belle Arti in Florence but found it unsatisfactory so the family travelled to Paris where the eighteen-year-old Sargent began his formal training in 1874. 
He enrolled in the drawing classes at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, where he learned the basics of academic draughtsmanship under Professor Adolphe Yvon.
But the big step was when he joined Carolus-Duran's atelier.

Portrait of Carolus-Duran 1879, John Singer Sargent.
To understand Sargent we have to understand his new master, Carolus Duran, who was born at Lille in 1837, Carolus won the coveted Prix de Rome in 1861and spent four years in Italy, afterwards travelling to Spain. He became the leading French portrait-painter of his time but rejected the  traditional academic system of careful preliminary drawings and elaborate underpaintings that was derived from the Italian and Flemish schools and instead embraced the Spanish school.  Duran developed and taught a painting style largely derived from Velazquez and Goya, an alla prima method with bold bravado brushwork, this new note introduced into portrait-painting and taken up by Sargent led to some of the most exciting paintings of the nineteenth century.

 "Le Baiser" Self-portrait by Carolus-Duran with his wife as newlyweds.

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