Detail from The Canal, Amsterdam, 1889, James McNeill Whistler, The Hunterian, University of Glasgow


John Singer Sargent

Nationality: American
Date of birth: 1856.01.12
Place of birth: Florence
Date of death: 1925.04.15
Place of death: London
Category: artist


John Singer Sargent, artist. He was born in Florence but of American nationality.


Artist, painter of portrait and landscape subjects. Sargent spent the major part of his career in England and was a friend of Whistler. He was a member of The Arts Club from 1885 until at least 1920. In 1887 he leased a studio at 13 Tite Street, which had been leased by Whistler between March 1881 and October 1884. Whistler and Sargent both had rooms in the Palazzo Rezzonico in Venice in consecutive years, 1881 and 1882 respectively. Like Whistler, Sargent was invited to contribute to the first exhibition of Les XX in 1884. Whistler's models, the Pettigrew sisters, also modelled for Sargent. Along with many other artists including Whistler, Sargent contributed to a decorative fan (see Dancing girl, on a fan m1423).

In 1890 Sargent accepted a commission to decorate the Boston Public Library, designed by McKim, Mead and White, with a series of murals illustrating the development of religious thought. These murals, and a later cycle of Classical and allegorical subjects at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (begun 1916), were to occupy a large part of Sargent's energies for the rest of his life. In 1891 Whistler was invited to contribute wall decorations for Bates Hall in the Boston Public Library, which would join those by Sargent. However, his designs were not executed due to lack of funds and the panel still remains vacant (see Study for Three Decorative Panels Representing 'The Landing of Columbus', 'Queen Isabel la Católica of Spain' and 'Queen Elizabeth of England' y396 and Study for three decorative panels representing 'The Landing of Columbus', 'Queen Isabel la Catôlica of Spain', and 'Queen Elizabeth of England' for Boston Public Library, Massachusetts m1356).

In February 1896 (at the time that Whistler's wife Beatrice was dying of cancer), Sargent lent Whistler his studio at 76 Fulham Road.

Sargent was made an Associate of the RA in 1894, and a Royal Academician in 1897; at this time there was perhaps a cooling of their relationship, although no outright break.


Kelly's Directory of Chelsea, Pimlico and Belgravia, London, 1887; Bénézit, E., Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs, 8 vols, Paris, 1956-61; Annual Register, London, 1925, p. 130; Richard Ormond, Elaine Kilmurray, John Singer Sargent, London, Tate Gallery, 1998; The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy. Richard Ormond, Elaine Kilmurray, John Singer Sargent: The Complete Paintings, Yale University Press, Paul Mellon Centre, 2018.