Saturday, December 11, 2010

Saturday Salon: A Favorite Painting

How's this for a seasonal sort of portrait? Dr. Pozzi at Home by John Singer Sargent. (1856 - 1925) Dr. Samuel Pozzi (1846 -1918) was a leading gynecologist (Sarah Bernhart was a patient) and all around Renaissance man, considered a bit of a dandy in his time (well, the glorious red robe might tell us that at first glance), though his many intellectual pursuits (he was a staunch supporter of Darwin's work as well as prominent in the struggle to have Alfred Dreyfus's conviction overturned) certainly adds weight to the notion that he was much more than just an empty fashion plate. You can read more about the fascinating Dr. Pozzi here. The good doctor may have led a fairly dramatic life, but not any more so than the way he left it: murdered by a deranged patient in 1918.

The most striking thing, I think, about the portrait is the elegant length of blindingly red robe which captures the eye and doesn't let go. In my personal opinion, red is a very difficult color to paint well, whether it's fabric or flowers or fire engines - this is a masterful handling of the color. And my goodness, the length of the doctor's body, very impressive. I wonder how tall he actually was in life. Again I think, Sargent's penchant for elongating the human body is on display here. Personally, I love this about his style - it adds an odd note of otherworldly 'impossibility' to the strength and beauty of the portrait.

To read more about Sargent and his work, please go here.
To see a video of Sargent's work, please go here.


  1. How very strange to pose for a portrait in your robe!

  2. John Singer Sargent did a "scandalous" painting of Isabella Stewart Gardner - which wasn't so scandalous but that whole plunging neckline, tiny waist thing seemed a bit, well, you know... I like his whole story, which led me to learning more about Isabella Stewart Gardner, and she was really quite intriguing for Boston society. And to think -- a little tiff, or at least unbridled tension, between her and Edith Wharton!

  3. Lisa: Well, it's a fairly 'intimate' portrait, I think. Meant to convey the Doctor's sensual grace. And the title is: Dr. Pozzi at Home. But if I had such a glorious robe (and looked this good in it) I'd want to pose in it too. ;)

  4. Coffee and a Book Chick: Oh, I LOVE that portrait of Isabella!! She was some dame - love her! I wish a filmmaker with some imagination and wit would make a film of her life: I'd love to see Rachel Weisz in the role - wouldn't you?
    What was the tiff with Edith Wharton?

  5. I love the red on red and the different shades and feels of the color. It helps that the subject is rather striking in looks.

  6. Ryan: Nope, it doesn't hurt at all. :)


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