Above: The Hands of Dr. Pozzi
In the portrait above, a man poses in a red house robe. We come to learn that this is the portrait of Dr. Pozzi, a famed nineteenth century gynecologist. You have to appreciate the artist's sense of humor showing such a doctor posed nearly, but not quite, naked in his bathrobe. Like the patients he serves, he casually holds the sides of his robe together with his long elegant surgeon hands. Another hand is draped playfully over the belt loops as if the robe were about to open. It is a very sexy and improper portrait of a doctor who tends to a woman's intimate medical needs.
2. detail of Asher Wertheimer, leading art dealer in London. The hand perfectly characterizes the cigar chomping high flying Jewish business man.
3. detail from portrait of Jacques-Emile Blanche. Sargent gave careful attention to Blanche’s attenuated fingers. Sargent bartered this portrait in exchange for some Louis XV style furniture from the sitter, a well known Parisian artist.
4. detail of Charles-Émile-Auguste Durand, the highly influential portrait teacher who taught Sargent. This portrait plays homage to his teacher's style and one can't help but notice the ruffled cuffs, the walking cane as signals of artistic eccentricity.
5. detail from portrait of Italian artist Antonio Mancini. This is yet another artist friend of Sargent. One thing to take note in this exhibition is the sheer number of artists that Sargent befriended. In fact, you will note throughout history our best beloved artists all surrounded themselves with other artists. This brings to mind the quote that you become the average of the five people you spend the most time with. In other words, if you want to be a successful artist, surround yourself with other successful artists. Although this sketch was produced in just an hour, Sargent felt it important to include one of his sitter's hands.
7. detail from La Carmencita Dancing. Notice how he accentuates the famed dancer's hands. In this full length portrait, the feet are hidden from view. This dancer caused quite a stir in her time, not unlike Elvis in the 1950's, as her dancing was considered risque.
This portrait was considered vulgar because of the polka dot dress-- yes, scandalous, I know. Notice the sitter's double chin and teeth baring smile in the full view at right...oh, my. But you can see all this expression in her hands which aren't even properly folded but fingers are a tangle of bohemian lust for life.
9. detail of American actor Joseph Jefferson portraying a character
10. detail from portrait of the Pailleron children.. you can read more about the effeminate hands of the brother in this double portrait in the blog post: Learning from the Masters: The Psychological Portraits of John Singer Sargent
11. detail of Madame Ramón Subercaseaux
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