An untiring and prolific painter of great facility, Sargent was particularly brilliant in his treatment of textures. In his portraiture he showed great virtuosity in his handling of the brushstrokes, quickly capturing the likeness and vitality of his subject. His portraits nearly always flattered his sitters; he remarked upon this once, saying his was a pimp's profession. During his youth, and again after 1910, he deserted portrait painting long enough to produce a large number of brilliant impressionistic landscapes in watercolor, many of them painted in Venice and the Tyrol. Of these, fine collections are in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Brooklyn Museum.
His portraits and figure pieces are housed in many private and public collections in England and the United States. Well-known examples are the portrait of Isabella Stewart Gardner and El Jaleo (Gardner Mus., Boston); the portraits of Madame X, the Wyndham sisters, Henry Marquand, and William Merritt Chase (Metropolitan Mus.); The Fountain (Art Inst., Chicago); and Children of E. D. Boit (Mus. of Fine Arts, Boston). During the late 1990s and early 2000s Sargent was subject to wide-ranging critical reappraisal, provoking a renewed appreciation for his work.
Used with permission. The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. Copyright © 2001 Columbia University Press