John Singer Sargent may have been the most cosmopolitan American artist of the nineteenth century (born in Florence, Italy, trained in France, travels in North Africa, commissions in the United States). One of his most famous paintings, Madame X (1883-84), caused a scandal when first exhibited in Paris because of the daring sensuality of his depiction of Amélie Gautreau. Today, the portrait hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Half a block from the Met on a quiet Upper East Side street, the Adelson Galleries has organized the revelatory exhibition “Sargent and Impressionism,” on view until December 18.
There are only a few days left to see it, but whether you live in New York or are a first-time visitor, don't miss it. The show gathers works, some never before seen, others rarely loaned from private collections and museums. The exhibition demonstrates Sargent’s developing style and interest in Monet and Manet as well as a six-year period, 1883-89, spent in England. Adelson’s townhouse galleries are just the place to take in a painting such as Garden Study of the Vickers Children (ca. 1884). Up close, Sargent’s application of paint seems thick, luxuriant; his brush strokes are bold. Take a few steps back and the children come to life: against a lilies-filled background, yet free of any sentimentality, emerges the innocent distraction of a young boy and focused determination of an older sister as together they water flowers.
For admirers of Sargent, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston has recently opened the Arts of the Americas wing, which features a gallery devoted to the works of this American expatriate, including a masterwork, The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit (1882).
Mario R. Mercado is the arts editor at Travel + Leisure.