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Comment: This item is in good condition. All pages and covers are readable. There are no stains or tears. Dust jacket is present if applicable. May contain small amounts of writing and/or highlighting. Spine and cover may show signs of wear. May not contain supplementary items. We ship within 1 business day. Big Hearted Books shares its profits with schools, churches and non-profit groups throughout New England. Thank you for your support!
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Sargent Portrait Drawings: 42 Works by John Singer Sargent (Dover Art Library) Paperback – August 1, 1983

4.5 out of 5 stars 75 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Portraiture is a demanding art requiring the artist to capture a likeness and render it revealing some hint of the personality behind the image. A two-pronged task, it requires great technical skill and an intuitive eye. In both these respects, John Singer Sargent stands out as a portrait artist of major stature.
Born in 1856 in Florence of American parents, Sargent showed artistic aptitude at an early age and was enrolled at the Academia delle Belle Arti in that city. Later he studied with Parisian artist Carolus Duran, acquiring the loose, painterly style for which he is renowned. International acclaim as a portrait artist came early in his life and followed him throughout his career.
Sargent's portraits done in oil are well known; they appear in major museums throughout the world. A lesser-known but no less respected aspect of his oeuvre, his portrait drawings are the focus of this collection. Included here are early works in pencil and pastels, and later renderings in charcoal, a medium Sargent favored after 1910. They have been selected from both public and private collections by art historian Trevor J. Fairbrother and attest to Sargent's technical skill, versatility, and dexterity in three different mediums.
In addition, these works reveal Sargent's ability to treat a diverse group of subjects; he handles the languorous beauties of the Edwardian age, members of the aristocracy, and the great literary and artistic figures of his day with equal virtuosity, capturing their characteristic mood and style. This collection includes portraits of Lord and Lady Spencer, Henry James, William Butler Yeats, Vaslav Nijimsky, Tamara Karsavina, Dame Ethel Smyth, and Jascha Heifetz.
Artists, students, historians, and lovers of portraiture will appreciate this selection of drawings by Sargent. Anyone interested in trying his hand at portraiture will find this volume both instructional and inspirational.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications (August 1, 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486245241
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486245249
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 8.2 x 11.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #77,040 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Length: 1:36 Mins
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.
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Format: Paperback
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!
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Format: Paperback
i like these small and inexpensive dover books. this one has some super portraits! --both contour line and charcoal/value drawings.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Paperback
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.
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