Posts Tagged 'John Singer Sargent'

Dashing Paint

John Singer Sargent, Dorothy, 1900, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Leland Fikes Foundation, Inc., 1982.35

On an afternoon in London, a two-year-old girl posed for the American artist John Singer Sargent (1856-1925). Dorothy Williamson was the granddaughter of one of Sargent’s American patrons, and sat before one of society’s greatest portraitists. But how long could a toddler sit still? What might that studio visit have been like?

Sargent would have painted Dorothy in his Tite Street studio in London (Oscar Wilde and James McNeill Whistler had also lived on the street). Behind the imposing bricks, the room was packed with antique silks, Chinese screens, and a gramophone to play music for clients.

Dorothy herself was perched on one of the chairs the artist kept around the studio. Sargent was already familiar with painting upper-class children: to keep them entertained and holding a pose, he might bribe them with oranges, whistle a tune, or recite a limerick.

First, he would place the easel next to Dorothy so he could step back and visualize sitter and canvas together. Sargent advised his students to place lots of paint on the palette in order to create a thick layer on the canvas. With the brush, he would start to add flesh colors, apply dark tones for contours around the eyes and mouth, and finish it off with white highlights along the nose and rosy cheeks.

Rather than create preparatory sketches, he often worked ideas out on the canvas—even painting a portrait in one afternoon. To capture the wriggling toddler, Sargent set up a fast-paced sitting, seen in his sketchlike brushwork. As he looked at tones and shadows, suddenly a face would miraculously emerge from the background. He tried to use the fewest strokes, perhaps a single mark for Dorothy’s bangs or pursed lips. He dashed a blue line for a shadow under the pudgy cheeks and left bits of the cream canvas untouched to suggest voluminous feathers on the hat. Sargent also added a single mark of white to the hat for a flamboyant detail.

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He took breaks to play a song on the piano, and then jumped up to finish a few brushstrokes. Sitters described how he would run toward the canvas with a loaded brush of paint, balance a fragrant cigarette in his mouth, and suddenly make a single stroke on the canvas. Looking closely, you can almost see Sargent’s gestures, when he arched his brush, twisted the wrist, and finally made a stroke on the canvas. He described wanting to create portraits that were “alive”—capturing a sitter in the midst of moving or speaking. The result is Dorothy’s hand—energetic and vibrating strokes for the fingers.

Sargent would hold his brush in the air and then place it down upon the canvas exactly where he wanted it to fall. As described by one of his students, “The stroke resounded almost like a note in music.” My personal favorite is the gray line that travels down the pinafore, just one stroke to suggest the folds of the dress.

Finally, he added the finishing touch—the signature. On the upper left side of the canvas, Sargent playfully signed his name with the butt-end of the brush by scratching into the paint layers. Come visit little Dorothy in the Level 4 galleries and marvel at Sargent’s dazzling skill.

Lea Stephenson is the McDermott Graduate Intern for American Art at the DMA.

Pumpkin Perfect

Our Education Department is always up for a creative challenge, so we celebrated today’s holiday by dressing up our pumpkins in their DMA finest for our annual Great Pumpkin Contest. Competition was fierce, but the winning, Linus-approved trophy was awarded to Emily and Jennifer, for their take on everyone’s favorite, somewhat creepy, DMA toddler, Dorothy. Check out all the terrific submissions below. Happy Halloween!

Sarah Coffey is the Education Coordinator at the DMA.

Pet-a-Palooza: A Tail-Wagging Line-Up of Fabulous Felines and Furry Fidos

You have got to be kitten me right meow—is it national Dress Up Your Pet Day already? Indeed it is! If you were having a ruff day, not to worry! Every January 14 the dog-gone crazy DMA staff transform their cuddly critters into a favorite work from our collection (check out the catwalk from 2014 and 2015). It is im-paw-sible not to smile after viewing these purr-fect copycats. Who will be your favorite cat-tenders?

recto

DMA Staffer: Stacey Lizotte, Head of Adult Programming and Multimedia Services
DMA Pet: Parker, English Springer Spaniel, age 2 (he belongs to my parents but I borrowed him when I was home for Christmas)
Portrait Inspiration: Camille Pissarro, Self Portrait, c. 1898
I sent my mom several portraits from our collection to pick from and she liked Camille Pissarro’s Self-Portrait best because Parker has the same soulful look. We had a lot of moving parts with this portrait—from props, background, and getting the right angle so that Parker’s chest hair looked like a beard—therefore it took about 120 shots to get one good one of Parker as Pissarro. And a shout out to George Costanza for letting Parker borrow his beret and painter’s palette.

Mexico Jessica
DMA Staffer:
Jessica Fuentes, C3 Gallery Manager
DMA Pet: Fidel (age 4), Nene (age 6), and Cappuccino (age 2 months), Chihuahuas
Portrait Inspiration: Jesús Guerrero Galván, Images of Mexico (Imágenes de México), 1950
New year, new pup! Just a few weeks ago we added a new Chihuahua puppy to our Chihuahua family, so when thinking about this year’s Dress Up Your Pet Day, I had to find a work of art with three figures. I planned to roam the galleries searching for the perfect painting, starting on Level 4 and working my way down. But I didn’t have to go very far. On the Level 4 Landing, overlooking the DMA Cafe, I came across Images of Mexico (Imágenes de México) by Jesús Guerrero Galván. Not only did it contain three figures, but each figure seemed to capture each of my dogs’ traits. The figure in the middle with the piercing eyes had the unmistakable stare of my moody dog, Nene. The figure on the left seemed younger and sweeter, asleep and cuddling up to the older sibling, spot on for my loveable, cuddly Fidel. And the figure at right, lying slightly adrift, illustrated the slight rift between the dogs who’ve grown up together and the newbie, Cappuccino.

george chloe
DMA Staffer: 
Amanda Blake, Head of Family, Access, and School Experiences and Interim Director of Education, and Kimberly Daniell, Senior Manager of Communications, Public Affairs, and Social Media Strategy
DMA Pet: George Costanza (age 9) and Chloe (age 10), West Highland White Terriers
Portrait Inspiration: Alfredo Ramos Martinez, Mexican Adam & Eve (Adam y Eve Mexicanos), 1933
George and Chloe enjoyed teaming up so much for last year’s blog that they just had to do it again in 2016. Chloe desperately wants to be best friends with George, but becomes a bit shy when he is around because he is such an Insta celebrity. In order to get her out of her bubble and bring these two westies closer together, we decided making them the original couple would help them take their friendship to the next level—could it be puppy love? Both pups enjoyed re-creating this beautiful, large painting by Alfredo Ramos Martinez, and they can’t wait for next year’s art date.

Jessi red hat
DMA Staffer:
Jessie Frazier, Manager of Adult Programming
DMA Pet: Jenny, Basset Hound, age 5 1/2
Portrait Inspiration: Frank Duveneck, Lady with a Red Hat (Portrait of Maggie Wilson), c. 1904
This is one of my favorite paintings in the collection, and I thought it was only fitting for one graceful lady to emulate another. Jenny agreed that, like Ms. Maggie Wilson, her delicate features are best captured in profile.

T43118, 3/31/05, 12:37 PM, 8C, 5518x7554 (216+420), 100%, Repro 1.8 v2, 1/8 s, R68.5, G54.1, B79.0

DMA Staffer: Rebekah Boyer, Assistant Manager, DMA Member Groups
DMA Pet: Stokely Carmichael, Domestic Housecat, suspected Panther, age 4
Portrait Inspiration: Eugène Delacroix, Portrait of a Woman in a Blue Turban, c. 1827
This painting by Eugène Delacroix always catches my eye when I browse our European collection. The model is dressed with studio props intended to persuade the viewer that she is a mysterious and “exotic” foreigner; her “otherization” is further solidified by the use of familiar conventions of Renaissance portraiture. Not only does this send me down memory lane to my undergraduate infatuation with Edward Said but the contemplation of this “Orientalism” piques my interest in the model herself. Was she complicit in this “imperialist oppression,” or was she merely seeking gainful employment to alter her material conditions? I think Stokely’s faraway gaze mirrors and reveals the original work’s secrets: He is ready to help, as long as there is a tuna-laden reward awaiting him.

pollock, 7/10/08, 12:29 PM, 8C, 4086x8892 (1584+108), 112%, chrome 7 stops, 1/8 s, R55.4, G34.4, B47.8

DMA Staffer: Chelsea Pierce, Curatorial Administrative Assistant, Contemporary Art
DMA Pet: Helios, Great Pyrenees mix, age 6
Portrait Inspiration: Jackson Pollock, Portrait and a Dream, 1953
Helios is a sensitive dog with many artistic qualities. Most days, he lounges in his armchair as he waits for his mom to return home. Above this chair is a work on paper—made by a DMA colleague—that resembles the black entangled mass in Jackson Pollock’s Portrait and a Dream. After catching Helios curiously examining this work, the idea presented itself to use his precious face as the portrait side of Pollock’s work. Having worked on the current Jackson Pollock: Blind Spots exhibition for over a year, I can say that Pollock has now become ingrained in every aspect of my life.

2008_43_2_a_e, 11/18/08, 12:33 PM, 8C, 6000x8000 (0+0), 100%, Custom, 1/15 s, R92.9, G57.6, B60.4

DMA Staffer: Andrea Severin Goins, Interpretation Manager
DMA Pet: Artemisia Gentileschi (“Artie”), Malshi (Maltese-Shihtzu), age 6
Portrait Inspiration: Marcel Dzama, The Minotaur, 2008
While Artie is named after a 17th-century painter, her favorite kind of art is contemporary. She is particularly drawn to this Dzama sculpture because, like the Minotaur—a hybrid of man and goat—Artie is herself a hybrid (of Maltese and Shihtzu).

lindsay dorothy
DMA Staffer: 
Lindsay O’Connor, Manager of Docent and Teacher Programs
DMA Pet: Hattie, Dachshund-Terrier mix, age 1
Portrait Inspiration: John Singer Sargent, Dorothy, 1900
Little Miss Dorothy was the natural choice for feisty one-year-old Hattie’s first Dress Up Your Pet Day. While this energetic pup enjoys getting cuddles or tearing around the dog park, Hattie patiently sat for her turn-of-the-century portrait and met the camera with poise beyond her years. She enjoyed chewing on the bonnet when we wrapped up.

Not DMA Photography

DMA Staffer: Dr. Anne R. Bromberg, The Cecil and Ida Green Curator of Ancient and Asian Art
DMA Pet: Miss Suzl, Maine Coon, age 5
Portrait Inspiration: Thomas Sully, Cinderella at the Kitchen Fire, 1843
Miss Suzl loves posing in her library home and we have a white Snow Leopard toy for her to pose next to as Cinderella and her cat. I named this piece Companion Animals: Miss Suzl and the White Pussy.

queta
DMA Staffer: Queta Moore Watson, Senior Editor
DMA Pet: Floyd, Tan and White Tabby, age 9 months
Portrait Inspiration: Léon Frédéric, Nature or Abundance (La Nature or Fécondité), 1897
This allegorical depiction of the unity and harmony of nature was painted by Belgian symbolist artist Léon Frédéric. The dual title, Nature or Abundance, is apt here as flora and fauna unite while surrounded by the abundance of the holidays. Perhaps even more apt, however, is the abundance of ornaments Floyd broke as he harmonized with nature.

(Images: Camille Pissarro, Self-Portrait, c. 1898, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection, 1985.R.44; Jesús Guerrero Galván, Images of Mexico (Imágenes de México), 1950, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Art Association Purchase, 1951.102; Alfredo Ramos Martinez, Mexican Adam & Eve (Adam y Eve Mexicanos), 1933, oil on canvas, Lent by Private Collection, Dallas, TX; Frank Duveneck, Lady with a Red Hat (Portrait of Maggie Wilson), c. 1904, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Pauline Allen Gill Foundation, 1987.368; Eugène Delacroix, Portrait of a Woman in a Blue Turban, c. 1827, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., in honor of Patricia McBride, 2005.34.McD;  Jackson Pollock, Portrait and a Dream, 1953, oil and enamel on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Algur H. Meadows and the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated, 1967.8, © 2015 The Pollock-Krasner Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Marcel Dzama, The Minotaur, 2008, plaster, gauze, rope, fabric, chair, bucket, and paintbrushes, Dallas Museum of Art, DMA/amfAR Benefit Auction Fund, 2008.43.2.a-e, © Marcel Dzama; John Singer Sargent, Dorothy, 1900, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Leland Fikes Foundation, Inc., 1982.35; Thomas Sully, Cinderella at the Kitchen Fire, 1843, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Pauline Allen Gill Foundation, 2005.1; Léon Frédéric, Nature or Abundance (La Nature or Fécondité), 1897, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, Mrs. John B. O’Hara Fund, 2007.18.FA

Kimberly Daniell is the Senior Manager of Communications, Public Affairs, and Social Media Strategy, and Julie Henley is the Communications and Marketing Coordinator at the DMA.

A Tip of the Hat

In honor of National Hat Day this Friday, I wanted to tip my hat to a few fascinating finds in our collection.

Charles Willson Peale, Rachel Leeds Kerr, 1790, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Pauline Allen Gill Foundation 1989.23

Charles Willson Peale, Rachel Leeds Kerr, 1790, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Pauline Allen Gill Foundation, 1989.23

During the late 18th century, hats were the most important element of your outfit. Formal (read: ridiculously over-dressed) hairstyles had reached such heights that they required proper containment during daytime hours—Mrs. Kerr’s cap does just the trick.

John Singer Sargent, Dorothy, 1900, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Leland Fikes Foundation, Inc. 1982.35

John Singer Sargent, Dorothy, 1900, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Leland Fikes Foundation, Inc., 1982.35

At the turn of the 20th century, children were outfitted like mini-adults. Miss Dorothy’s oversized hat is decked out with such extensive feathers and ribbons that it’s almost too much for her little head to hold!

Isaac Soyer, Art Beauty Shoppe, 1934, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Public Works of Art Project 1935.7

Isaac Soyer, Art Beauty Shoppe, 1934, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Public Works of Art Project, 1935.7

A jaunt to the beauty shop wouldn’t have been complete without a favorite piece of millinery. But can you spot all the toppers in this keen scene? Don’t be fooled—the headpiece in back is actually a permanent wave machine!

Visit the DMA’s collection galleries, included in free general admission, and pick out your perfect chapeau.

Sarah Coffey is the Education Coordinator at the DMA.

DMA Snapshot: American Portraits

2014-06-14 15.14.42

Sometimes visitors will ask me what they should see if they don’t have much time to spend in the galleries. Generally, I like to tailor my suggestions to the visitors’ preference for a particular style of art, but sometimes I just really like to show off a few of my favorites. One of the sections that I like to visit is the wonderful (and impressive) portrait collection on Level 4 in the American Art Galleries. During a quick visit  you can see celebrities such as George Washington, whose portrait was painted in 1795 by Rembrandt Peale when the artist was only seventeen years old. It wasn’t until 1823 that Peale decided to improve on the original painting.

Rembrandt Peale, George Washington, c. 1850, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Karl and Esther Hoblitzelle Collection, gift of the Hoblitzelle Foundation

Rembrandt Peale, George Washington, c. 1850, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, The Karl and Esther Hoblitzelle Collection, gift of the Hoblitzelle Foundation

The sitter in John Singer Sargent’s Dorothy was the granddaughter of one of Sargent’s first American patrons, George Millar Williamson. Dorothy was selected to be a part of the Art Everywhere US campaign to celebrate American history and culture nationwide. Be on the lookout for her on outdoor displays this August.

John Singer Sargent, Dorothy, 1900, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Leland Fikes Foundation, Inc.

John Singer Sargent, Dorothy, 1900, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Leland Fikes Foundation, Inc.

You don’t want to miss the beautiful portrait of Theodore Roosevelt’s first cousin, Miss Dorothy Quincy Roosevelt (later Mrs. Langdon Geer).This portrait is stunning and perfectly exemplifies the practices of John White Alexander that put him on the map, not just as a portrait artists but also as a muralist and illustrator.

John White Alexander, Miss Dorothy Quincy Roosevelt (later Mrs. Langdon Geer), 1901-1902, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Pauline Allen Gill Foundation in memory of Pauline Gill Sullivan

John White Alexander, Miss Dorothy Quincy Roosevelt (later Mrs. Langdon Geer), 1901-1902, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Pauline Allen Gill Foundation in memory of Pauline Gill Sullivan

The American Art Gallery features the finest portraits and decorative arts from the 18th and 19th centuries that America had to offer and is a definite must-see. If you’re yearning for more information, visit the DMA.mobi tour to learn interesting facts about more works in the collection, like John Singleton Copley’s portraits Woodbury Langdon and Sarah Sherburne Langdon. Then don’t forget to check in to the DMA Friends program to get your points!

Maegan Hoffman is Assistant Manager of the DMA Partners Program at the DMA.

DMA Art Will Be Everywhere

The votes are in, the results have been tallied, and the Art Everywhere US works have been chosen! The voting was so close that fifty-eight works of art made the cut (including ten works from the DMA) and will be reproduced on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms, and more this August. Be on the lookout for The Icebergs or Dorothy on your commute and stop by the DMA to visit the works in person.

Kimberly Daniell is the Manager of Communications and Public Affairs at the DMA

Artist Astrology: Capricorn

This week’s post is written by guest-author Alexa Hayes, the McDermott Curatorial Intern for American and Decorative Arts. Alexa is a specialist on John Singer Sargent, having written her honors thesis on Sargent’s portraits of women during the 19th century. I’m very grateful for her contributions to this edition of Artist Astrology!

The chilly months of winter match the seemingly-chilly exterior of those born under the sign of Capricorn (December 22 – January 19). Capricorns are outwardly reserved, dedicated hard workers driven by private ambitions. Rarely reckless, they pursue their goals with resourcefulness and practicality, often enjoying success because of their intense commitment to their work. Capricorns are fiercely loyal, making friends for life with those who can see past their elitist demeanor to the deeply sensitive and loving character hidden inside.

The DMA’s collection offers stellar works of art by many of history’s most beloved Capricorns:  Joseph Cornell (December 24), Henri Matisse (December 31), John Singer Sargent (January 12), Berthe Morisot (January 14), and Paul Cézanne (January 19).

1983_562

Joseph Cornell – December 24

An eclectic recluse, Joseph Cornell rarely left the state of New York and held a long-standing suspicion of people, particularly men. Despite this isolation, his pioneering of assemblage and collage as fine art earned him acclaim throughout the art world. He maintained a commitment to studio practice, constantly collecting objects, scraps, and images to create his works of art, preferring to work with items that already have a life and history rather than to produce something brand new. Although many art historians focus on the Surrealist influence in Cornell’s work, his style tugs at viewers in an emotional way, playing with their own nostalgia, thus distancing him significantly from the Surrealists’ crisp world of dreams and fantasy.

2002_19_MCD

Henri Matisse – December 31

Originally trained as a lawyer, Henri Matisse did not develop an interest in art until age twenty one. During a period of illness, Matisse’s mother brought him art supplies to keep him entertained, unintentionally igniting a passion for art. Matisse worked in all media, from sculpture to drawing to printmaking, but became most famous for his daring employment of color, denial of realistic spatial relationships, and energetic brush strokes in painting. He is praised for his monumental contributions to modern art and remains one of the most beloved painters of the twentieth century.

1982_35

John Singer Sargent – January 12

Although John Singer Sargent lacked the reserved demeanor of most Capricorns, he did possess a distinct elegance and personable charm that gained him many friends in the elite literary and art circles of America and Europe. True to his Capricorn birth, however, he was extremely dedicated to a rigorous studio practice, maintaining a sketchbook at all times and spending hours developing the effortless painterly appeal of his portraits. Sargent had a keen eye not only for aesthetic design but for grasping the character of his sitter within minutes of their introduction. In Dorothy, broad streaks of paint shape the face of an angry child, seemingly furious at being forced to sit inside for a portrait in her fluffy white gown and impractical hat.

1981_129

Berthe Morisot – January 14

One of the most important female artists of the nineteenth century, Berthe Morisot established herself at the forefront of the Impressionist movement, developing her own artistic style and deviating from the subject matter of her male peers. Her work focused primarily on the feminine or domestic sphere, depicting the intimate relationships of women and children. Morisot primarily used friends and members of her household as models, but chose to present them in a modern painterly style, thus elevating a mundane subject to the level of high art competitive with the works of other Impressionists. Throughout most of her life, Morisot maintained a close friendship with her brother-in-law, Edouard Manet, who encouraged her to be less self-critical while supporting her career as an artist.

1985_R_10

Paul Cézanne – January 19

A prolific artist throughout his life, Paul Cézanne demonstrated time and again his commitment to his craft, even risking his father’s wrath when he rejected a career in law to pursue art. Cézanne radically changed the art world by flattening the picture plane rather than using a mathematical linear perspective with a single vanishing point.  Further, he simplified objects to basic geometric forms, enhancing their physical presence and sculptural qualities. Cezanne painted objects from a “lived” perspective, attempting to imitate the way that we see subjects in life from multiple angles or with varied impressions. His work greatly influenced the Cubist movement, inspiring artists like Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque to experiment with vision and perception.

Artworks shown:

  • Joseph Cornell, Portrait of Fiona, 1965-1970, Dallas Museum of Art, Gift of the Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation
  • Henri Matisse, Still-life: Bouquet and Compotier, 1924, Dallas Museum of Art, the Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, gift of the Hoblitzelle Foundation, Incorporated, in honor of Dr. Bryan Williams
  • John Singer Sargent, Dorothy, 1990, Dallas Museum of Art, Gift of the Leland Fikes Foundation, Incorporated
  • Berthe Morisot, Winter (Woman with a Muff), 1880, Dallas Museum of Art, Gift of the Meadows Foundation, Incorporated
  • Paul Cézanne, Still-life with Carafe, Milk Can, Bowl, and Orange, 1879-1880, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reeves Collection

Hayley Prihoda
McDermott Intern for Gallery and Community Teaching


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