The Art Institute of Chicago is featuring a John Singer Sargent exhibit through the end of September. I hadn’t visited the museum in years, but a friend is a member and she and I both love Sargent’s work, so off we went.
It was a learning experience. I was familiar with Sargent’s lush society portraits, but I didn’t know he also painted in watercolor and moved on to landscapes later in life. The works displayed highlighted his connections to Chicago: paintings and drawings of members of the Deering and Pullman families, among others. They also highlighted his world travels and friendships with other artists, some of whose work was also displayed.
One portrait that caught my eye was that of fellow artist Charles Herbert Woodbury. The rendering of the eyeglass lenses with just a few strokes of white boggled me.
If I touched these painting surfaces, I imagined I would feel the smooth slip of silk and the softness of velvet.
In later years, Sargent stepped away from portraiture. He traveled to the Middle East, Europe, and Canada and concentrated on plein air painting, or painting outdoors.
The Deering family of Chicago collected Sargent’s work, and several family members were close friends of his. He visited their Florida home and painted a series of watercolors of both it and the surrounding area.
It was a wonderful exhibit. I’m glad I was able to view it.