Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Artists Studios - Part I

This is the exterior of a great artist's studio. I will give you some clues, and see if you can guess the artist's name.
The studio is located at 31/33 Tite Street, in the Chelsea area of London.

The artist first took a lease on this home in 1885, and it would remain his home the rest of his life.

The above three pictures are from the artist's studio on Tite Street. The large window in the last picture faces North, which is ideal light for many artists, as it is pure and not too strong.

The artist was considered the most accomplished portrait artist of his era. He was born in 1856 in Italy, to American parents, so he was an American expatriate even though he lived his entire life in Europe. He returned to America many times throughout his life, usually to paint commissioned portraits, and many of his best and most important works are part of American museum collections.

Portrait of Madame X, 1884, collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC

The Portrait of Madame X is often considered this artist's best work, and it was his personal favorite. It caused quite a scandal when it was unveiled at the 1884 Paris Salon (a juried art exhibition for the top artists of the time), and received extremely harsh criticism. So stinging was the criticism that it was the impetus for the artist's move to London. There is a whole story behind this, and there are several fictionalized accounts of the story of Virginie Gautreau, the real 'Madame X'.

Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose. Painted 1885-1886. Collection of the Tate Gallery, London.

This is my favorite painting by this artist. It is indescribably beautiful in real life.

So who is the artist? It is John Singer Sargent (1856-1925).

The exterior of the studio in current day. An English watercolor artist lives here, and occasionally rents out the studio to fellow artists. It is here that Nelson Shanks painted his famous portrait of Princess Diana in 1994. Nelson Shanks also painted Margaret Thatcher at the Tite Street Studio. Nelson Shanks is considered one of the greatest living portrait artists.

Princess Diana, 1994, painted by Nelson Shanks at the Tite Street Studio. Part of a private collection.

Most of the information for this piece came from the John Singer Sargent Virtual Gallery. Please visit this site for much more information on Sargent.

Edit: Brilliant Asylum recognized the window from the picture of Sargent's studio, and realized that she has seen it in the January 2008 issue of W magazine. I was not aware of the W magazine article, so it was quite a coincidence that I did this post! Please check out BA's post, and the W magazine article. I love it when things come together like this! Thanks, BA, for connecting the dots. You made my day!

Sargent's studio, 2007. It was purchased by Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, and is now a residence.

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  1. Great post! So interesting to learn more about the artist and his studio.

  2. I so love your blog! I have often admired JSS's work but never knew about his London studio....what a truly amazing space. London is one of my very favorite places in the world...I think I've walked very close to where his studio is located! I would think I'd died and gone to heaven if I ever had a space like that in London! I also enjoyed the portrait of Lady Di...am actually reading The Diana Chronicles right now! LOL

  3. My delightful wife, Mrs. E. has a family friend whose grandfather shared a studio with JSS. I wonder if this was it?

    Thanks for the glimpse into the artistic life and a wonderful blog.

  4. I saw an exhibit of his work a long time ago at a museum in Williamstown, MA. I fell in love with Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose and I have the print framed in my apt. It is so pretty.

  5. This is such a great writeup. I love it! The entire thing.

  6. Thank you for the comments, everyone! I have no idea what inspired me to write about Sargent yesterday morning, but I enjoyed researching the post. I especially enjoyed getting reacquainted with the painting from the Tate Collection. Those lanterns in the painting really glow when you see it in person.

  7. Very interesting post, I love his paintings, so nice to find out more about him :)

  8. I love Sargent's work and was fortunate to see an exhibition of his work in London. I loved looking at the beautiful dresses his subjects wore and how he captured every detail to perfection. A true Master!

  9. One reason for the controversy behind the Madame X painting was that Sargent originally painted the left-facing dress strap hanging off her shoulder. At the time, this was considered scandalous.
    Imagine that?
    Great post!


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