American Art of the Week: For nineteen weeks from January through June 2016, I featured one painting by an American artist every Wednesday. Each entry includes a different work along with a paragraph or two about the artwork, its artist, and why I enjoy it. Click here to see all the posts.
This week’s artist, like last week’s, is among the most famous artists in American history and one of the first American artists to have a truly international impact. He’s also one of my personal favorites. I am speaking, of course, about John Singer Sargent (1856-1925).
Sargent made many of his best-known works, including the scandalous Portrait of Madame X, during the many years in which he lived in Europe, but he was an American-born artist who painted many American subjects throughout his career. His artfully-composed portraits of notable Gilded Age Americans are most familiar to many art lovers, but I am equally interested in his other work, including watercolors, European landscape scenes, exotic scenes from his travels, and casual images of his friends.
Today’s featured work depicts Edwin Booth (1833-1893) – actor, theatre owner, and older brother of Lincoln’s assassin. (He also looks exactly like my college acting professor, which was commented on freely and frequently in our theatre department. To my knowledge, he never disagreed with the statement.) Edwin Booth was a highly-influential thespian, so he probably viewed it as a compliment. This portrait is owned by the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, Texas, which is a collection I would love to see eventually.