An Artist in His Studio

An Artist in His Studio. John Singer Sargent. 1904. Oil on canvas, 56.2 x 72.1cm (22 1/8 x 28 3/8 inches). Courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (05.56). Sold by the artist to the MFA for $1039.53. (Accession Date: May 4, 1905) Purchased with the Hayden Collection—Charles Henry Hayden Fund. Click on image to enlarge it.

Selections from the Commentary by Gillian Shallcross on the Museum of Fine Arts website

1. “An Artist in His Studio was painted in August 1904 at Purtud, while Sargent was on a summer vacation in the Italian Alps. It depicts Sargent’s friend, the Italian artist Ambrogio Raffele, deep in contemplation, working on a bucolic landscape.”

2. “The time-honored subject of the artist at work was one of Sargent’s favorites. Beginning in the 1880s, he made many pictures of his friends painting, particularly while he was traveling or on a working holiday; he may even have sought out artists as like-minded companions for his travels. He typically showed them working outdoors; An Artist in His Studio, set in a hotel room, is an exception. The painting was created at a time when Sargent was once again showing strong interest in interior scenes. Like other such images, Sargent crafted An Artist with large, vibrant brushstrokes, impasto, and brilliant light.”

3. “The painting is one of Sargent’s most cleverly composed pictures and, as a commentary on the working conditions of the peripatetic artist, one of the most revealing. This is a reprise of the picture-within-a-picture theme Sargent introduced in Claude Monet Painting by the Edge of a Wood (1885, Tate Britain, London).”

4. “An Artist in His Studio demonstrates Sargent’s renewed commitment to producing noncommissioned work during the latter half of his career. In fact, his success as a portraitist likely helped to pave the way for the acclaim he received for the non-portrait works he often exhibited. Sargent’s independence allowed him to explore freely the artistic currents of his day, including, most importantly, Impressionism, as shown in the fluid brushwork and seemingly spontaneous nature of An Artist.”

Last modified 26 May 2016