Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends explores the artist as a painter at the forefront of contemporary movements in the arts, music, literature and theatre, revealing the depth of his appreciation of culture and his close friendships with many of the leading artists, actors and writers of the time.
Organised in collaboration with New York’s Metropolitan Museum, the exhibition brings together, for the first time, a collection of the artist’s intimate and informal portraits of his impressive circle of friends including Robert Louis Stevenson, Claude Monet and Auguste Rodin.
Sargent’s portraits of his friends and contemporaries were rarely commissioned and allowed him to create more experimental works than was possible in his formal portraiture. His sitters are depicted in informal poses, sometimes in the act of painting or singing. These paintings form a distinctive strand in Sargent’s work which is noticeably more intimate, witty and radical than his commissioned portraits, and, when seen together in this exhibition, will challenge the conventional view of the artist.
John Singer Sargent, the son of American parents was born in Florence in 1856 and brought up in a very cosmopolitan atmosphere. He studied painting in Italy and France. In 1884, he caused a sensation at the Paris Salon with his painting Madame X (Madame Pierre Gautreau) which sadly is not on show but can be seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The scandal caused Sargent to move to England, where in 1893 he was elected an associate of the Royal Academy, and subsequently a full member. In England he established himself as the country’s leading portrait painter while he also experimented with impressionism. During one of his visits to America he was commissioned to paint President Theodore Roosevelt. By 1907 he had largely abandoned portrait painting for murals and landscapes. He died in London in 1925 with his funeral taking place at St. Paul’s Cathedral.
A programme of events includes free ones for young people.
TICKETS: Adults £14.50 Concessions (seniors, children aged 12-18, students) £13.00
Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends transfers to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York from 30 June to 4 October 2015.
National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place WC2H 0HE
Opening hours: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday: 10am – 6pm (Gallery closure commences at 5.50pm) Late Opening: Thursday, Friday: 10am – 9pm (Gallery closure commences at 8.50pm)
Nearest Underground: Leicester Square/Charing Cross
General information: 0207 306 0055 Recorded information: 020 7312 2463