Customer Reviews

68
4.5 out of 5 stars
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

79 of 81 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2001
The Amazon page-listing for this volume is somewhat misleading - there ARE two pages of text (Selector Trevor J. Fairbrother's brief, insightful introduction), but there are also 42 pages of (paper) plates.
Often dismissed as a mere society portrait painter, the real poignancy of John Singer Sargent's work lay in the truth that the society he recorded was on the point of vanishing with the Great War. This sense is heightened by the form of the works reproduced here - drawings composed in pencil and charcoal. Their Cheshire-Cat-grin sketchiness, the way faces seem to materialise or dematerialise bodiless or skeletal on the page, gives them an overwhelmingly ghostly feel.
The most moving pictures here are of the now-forgotten heiresses, young wives, fresh-faced soldiers, and indulgent or austere parents, refugees from the fiction of Henry James, Edith Wharton and Proust, denied the immortality conferred on Singer's more famous subjects, such as Nijinsky, Myra Hess, Faure or Kenneth Grahame. Singer may not be as remorselessly analytical as his literary peers, but he has a wit, satiric sense and emotional empathy all of his own, burrowing out the melancholy behind the glittering facades. Singer seems particularly inspired by long, swan-like necks, as if their owners' beauty already sang their death. The notorious hostess Mme. Pierre Gautreau reclines on a sofa, bored and miserable as a beached mermaid; Nellie Huxley stares at us with sad, tired eyes.
Conversely, the portraits of imperious grandes dames, such as the Myrna Loy-like Mme. Eugenia Huici Errazuriz, are surprisingly sexy; while the Duchess of Marlborough flirts with gamine charm. Portraits of friends, such as the eccentric composer Dame Ethel Smyth, are more informal and playful. Androgyny is another favourite theme, while the unsigned portrait of working class Italian youth Olimpio Fusco glows with sympathetic homoeroticism. In fact, Singer's defining temperament, judging from this collection, is one of amused curiosity, as he sketches the garish and the gloomy, the restless and the resigned, the social and the solitary.
The sketches of notables are often great fun - a shadow-darkened W.B. Yeats as self-regarding buffoon; Jascha Heifitz in an intense tondo of fiddle-like scribbles, encircling a still white face rapt in concentration; Viscountess Astor lost in folds of Napoleonic grandeur; and a young Ernest Thesiger, displaying impish hints of his most famous future film role, as Dr. Pretorious in 'Bride of Frankenstein'.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on June 28, 2001
If anything at all, _this_ IS the John Singer Sargent book to buy!

John Singer Sargent has once again exemplified his skills as an artist through his GORGEOUS portrait drawings.

Unlike other artists, Sargent conveys emotion - passion - with his use of line, stroke, and tone incomparable to any other artist. (Believe me, Sargent is the Artist of Portraiture). This book inspired my art teacher to go into portraiture. This is perhaps the best collection of Sargent's line work. These 42 Works are VERY resourceful for the drawing student and very enjoyable for the viewer/reader. Sketches depict a wide variety of people (people focused in the fine arts - actors, writers, etc.).

A majority of these portrait drawings are done in charcoal; a few are done in pencil. This book includes an introduction by Trevor J. Fairbrother.

This book is also VERY affordable (gotta love the folks at Dover), so if you decide to take one apart for use as reference, you can always buy another. ^-^

Buy this. You won't be disappointed!
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2000
i like these small and inexpensive dover books. this one has some super portraits! --both contour line and charcoal/value drawings.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 2012
Well, this is my first complaint about an Amazon purchase. The book came just this morning, and it's pretty crunched. Came in a bubble envelope, but no stiffener was used so it was "antiqued" on its way to me.

Amazon should have known better. It's a thin book, paperback, with stapled binding - it clearly was not going to survive the shipment unscathed. Still, it's usable for my purposes (trying to learn to draw) so a beater copy will do. Really unusual for Amazon though. Most everything I get from them is wrapped well enough to be air dropped.

The good news: nice drawings! See the video.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2002
This book is one of the best among those in the Dover Art Library. I really like this book because the selection includes many beautifully executed portraits. Sargent's style is at once both romantic and incisive. The portraits are so highly expressive that one is compelled to assume accurate likeness.
John Singer Sargent is a great master of portraiture. This very enjoyable collection does him justice.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on September 5, 2009
It's remarkable how these quick, seemingly simple drawings contain so much knowledge. Sargent's drawings have as much artistic merit as his paintings. It's sad that the drawings are more obscure.

Although you have never met any of the people in this book, when you see their faces you will understand that this person really existed. No photograph is capable of having such a powerful presence. Some of these drawings look like they convey several facial expressions at once. In one single drawing the person might be smiling, might be starting to frown, they are looking over here but in a second they might look over there. Many great portraits created by other artists use this same illusion, most famously the Mona Lisa. Sargent was equally proficient at drawing all types of people, it made no difference if the subject was young or old, rich or poor, male or female, friendly or distant.

Maybe I'm just imagining it, but it seems like not only was Sargent capable of capturing the model's individual personality, he was also able to capture the personality of the models occupation. Artists are portrayed as reserved but watchful, dancers are proud and drawn as if they are actually in motion, writers are serious and always drawn with dark shadows obscuring half of their faces.

Like many Dover books, this is a beautiful book for little money. The Amazon preview doesn't do it justice, because it only shows the artist's earliest work. (And, as always, the resolution of the screen is worse than the resolution of print.) The book is in roughly chronological order, starting from Sargent's days as an art student. I love seeing how he improves over time.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 25, 2007
As a student of Life Drawing and Portraiture (Carolyn's by Design) going back to her art, I had to have more of Sargent. I had just read the book, "Strapless" about the nortorious Madame X who was captured over and over again in Sargent's renderings. This compilation of renderings displays how attuned Sargent is with his representations of the personalities, how good his eye is at capturing the likeness.....how easily he appears to use minimal usage of his medium to obtain maximum expression in his subject.....This small Dover Art Library reference to Sargent gives you the medium and size as well as the name of the subject and the Intro gives you a great synopsis on Sargent's bio.....For any serious student of Sargent....you will refer back to this over and over again for technical knowledge as well as the inspirational beauty obtained from his work...I love him! Formerly millersequine....sign me Carolyn's by Design and "Enjoy"!!!
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Sargent's work herein is far more informative, and a revealation
than many a contemporary artist. Even at his most humble of efforts
his rendings and drawings offer wisdom and insight in terms of approach. method and Attitude without wordiness or hype. This humble offering is well worth its price. It puts more pricey books to shame by delivering
simply proof positive of the heights of genius that can be reached through persistent ongoing effort.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2002
Sargent was very talented in the art of drawing. He drew at least 1,500 drawings throughout his long, busy artistic career. His portrait drawings of prominent people are beautiful and very realistic. I liked his drawing of Consuelo Yznaga, Duchess of Manchester. That drawing captured the expression of a vibrant middle aged woman. His nude figures are still the most magnificent expression of manhood. I recommend this book to those who are interested in the many talents of John Singer Sargent or artists looking for inspiration.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2006
Excellent plates - This book is a must have for any John Singer Sargent admirer!
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
     
 
Customers who viewed this also viewed
The Human Figure (Dover Anatomy for Artists)
The Human Figure (Dover Anatomy for Artists) by John H. Vanderpoel (Paperback - June 1, 1958)
$7.95

The Artist's Complete Guide to Drawing the Head
The Artist's Complete Guide to Drawing the Head by William Maughan (Paperback - January 1, 2004)
$19.36

Degas' Drawings (100 Illustrations, Including 8 in Color)
Degas' Drawings (100 Illustrations, Including 8 in Color) by Edgar Degas (Paperback - June 1, 1973)
$10.37
 
     

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.

Your Recently Viewed Items and Featured Recommendations 
 

After viewing product detail pages, look here to find an easy way to navigate back to pages you are interested in.