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John Singer Sargent’s Artistic Circle

Celebrating the creativity and glamour of Sargent's Gilded Age milieu, and the people who inspired him

The special exhibition Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends, on view at the Metropolitan Museum through October 4, 2015, showcases Sargent’s singular portraits of artists, writers, actors, and musicians, many of whom were his close friends.

Sargent (1856–1925) was the leading American portrait painter of his generation. In contrast to his famous society commissions, this unparalleled exhibition features people the artist especially liked or admired, lending many of the works an experimental freedom and informality.

Sargent’s “Group with Parasols” (ca. 1904–5) crops and foreshortens space

Sargent painted Madame Gautreau’s portrait over the course of 1883–84

The cast of characters portrayed in the exhibition includes a host of famous names, among them Claude Monet, Auguste Rodin, Gabriel Fauré, W. B. Yeats, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Henry James.

And of course, the Met’s own Madame X is on view, the pseudonym that Sargent assigned to his notorious portrait of Madame Pierre Gautreau (left). This striking image appears on selected products, such as our exclusive greeting cards and 2016 calendar.





“An Out-of-Doors Study” has been reproduced as a print by The Met Store. Brooklyn Museum, Museum Collection Fund 20.640

Some images depict the sun-dappled pleasures of the out-of-doors, where he shows his creative subjects painting and sketching, boating on a canal, or relaxing in a garden. These themes appear in some of our exclusive print reproductions.

Several portraits show Sargent’s subjects wearing fashionable straw sun hats, which were popular during the late nineteenth century and continue to appeal to us today.


The Classic Boater exudes a timeless chic

In other paintings Sargent sets his subjects in well-appointed, dramatic interiors with glowing lamplight and evocative shadows. Luxurious textiles and jewels often enhance these intimate portrayals, such as his image of Edith and Albert Vickers (below), two of the artist’s most devoted patrons.

Whether depicted en plein air or indoors, these extraordinary works have inspired The Met Store’s special product collection. Explore it here.

“Le Verre de Porto (A Dinner Table at Night),” 1884. Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Gift of the Atholl McBean Foundation

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