Hear from Forum member Joy about Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends (12 February – 25 May 2015)

Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends is not only a stunning collection of portraits but a visual expression of appreciation for his peers, friends and those whom he admired and respected. One of my favourite paintings is Carnation, Lily, Lily Rose (1885 – 6), I can remember the first time that I ever saw it being struck by the beauty of the colours and the way in which the lanterns looked like they were actually in a light against the soft greens and blues of the grass at twilight and the way the light of lanterns lights up the girls faces making them glow in a sort of magical way. The whole painting has a dreamy ethereal quality to it, it’s incredibly gentle and little girls in their white dresses are like little angels or fairies; the painting beautifully demonstrates the delicate innocence of childhood. The first impression I had of this painting has stuck with me so it was wonderful to see it put into context, surrounded by a large number of Sargent’s other works.

There is such a range of different people depicted in his paintings and they are all so unique. Sargent effectively captures personalities and conveys the characters of the individuals. One of the most striking portraits is that of Dr. Pozzi at home (1881) which is a magnificent piece with a deep maroon background from which his figure emerges in a vibrant crimson robe standing like a Grecian sculpture with the confidence of Apollo. Despite the theatricality of his bold stance Sargent has managed to maintain a sense of honesty and sincerity to the portrait. There are so many incredible portraits worth mentioning and such a great variety in not only the characters depicted but also the sizes, colours, shapes and styles of the paintings. Sargent himself is present in the form of a few self-portraits amongst the crowd of faces that fill the walls of the rooms yet another character to be admired by all those who go visit this wonderful exhibition.  

For more information about visiting Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends and ticket costs please look here.