Saturday, November 27, 2010

Saturday Salon: A Favorite Painting

Painting of Paul Cesar Helleu Sketching With His Wife by John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) A less formal approach done in what appears to me to be a fast, brushstroke style closer, perhaps, to an impressionist's outlook than in most of Sargent's other work. I have to admit I'm very fond of paintings of artists at work, and this one is especially pleasing to me. (There's a similarity in subject matter to last week's painting - Leighton's Painter's Honeymoon in that the artist's wife is included and both men are sketching.)

On first glance (and in my subjective opinion), this Sargent is all about the artist, Paul Cesar Helleu's right arm. That raised pinkie finger. Every time I see this painting I see that arm moving, that finger held aloft in the most graceful manner as the brush moves quickly across the canvas. It's all about the balance of that raised pinkie. While there's frowzy movement in the various grasses, it's the movement of that hand that holds my interest and, secondly - the comfortable and accommodating angle of the painter's body as he goes about his work. The grumpy boredom of the wife with all this going on next to her, excluding her, is, however, to be understood.
Self portrait of Sargent looking very bon-vivant and confident of his artist's 'look'. I like it. To read about John Singer Sargent and see more of his work, please go here. For a gorgeous video of Sargent's work, please go here.


  1. For some reason I keep thinking about the movie with Robin Williams and Cuba Gooding Jr. when i look at this. I can't remember the name of it, and I didn't like it all that much, but the feel of the painting is the same to me. The plant life almost looks semi liquid as if I would get wet if I touched it.

  2. I know the film you mean, though I never saw it. The one about death and dreams or whatever. Yeah, this is a bit different than most of Sargent's work. I'm going to be featuring probably another more representative Sargent this Saturday, I think. I just LOVE his work. Most ESPECIALLY, of course, his superb portraits.


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