Sargent at the Met

We recently visited John Singer Sargent at the MET for an afternoon of inspiration, leaving us with a profound feeling of curiosity into the avant-garde world of John Sargent. A celebrated American painter, and truly one of the greatest of our time, Sargent was known for his lifelike portraits of artists, writers, actors, and musicians, many of whom were his close friends. 

Because these works were rarely commissioned, he was free to create more radical works than for those in which he was paid. He often posed his subjects informally, creating a steady theme of movement. "Together, the portraits constitute a group of experimental paintings and drawings—some of them highly charged, others sensual, and some of them intimate, witty, or idiosyncratic." (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

While the collection of paintings was astounding, it was the anchoring of ornate frames that caught our attention. Working not against, but alongside these classic portraits, the frames help to tell each and every story, leaving us with a profound feeling of curiosity into the avant-garde world of John Sargent. 

 

Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth, 1889 in a famous performance of William Shakespeare's tradgedy Macbeth.

 "The story of the subject is so romantic. A true celebrity in her day, and this dramatic frame celebrates everything about her. It's bold and a bit brazen in its forceful carving just as the subject was." 

"This style for portraiture is very reminiscent of Stanford White, who was widely acknowledged as an innovative and talented designer of picture frames. The frames he designed for important portraits for his clients, romantic delicate and powerful at the same time."

The exhibition Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends, which opened at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on June 30, brings together about 90 of these distinctive portraits, including numerous loans from private collections. It will also explore in depth the friendships between Sargent and those who posed for him as well as the significance of these relationships to his life and art. Read more on the fantastic works of Sargent shown at the MET here.