Although an American by nationality, John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) had a close relationship with Italy where he was born. For three decades he visited Italy each year painting street scenes and landscapes that capture the essence of its places and people. However, he maintained an American identity, and also spent time in the United States, where his work focused on portraiture of the country’s elite.
Sargent is famously quoted as having once stated, “Every time I paint a portrait I lose a friend.” However, he remains most renowned for his portraiture, which captured the glamour and elegance of high society at the turn of the 19th century. His gorgeous portraits attempted to capture the essence of the sitter and explore their individual beauty. He succeed in doing just that, and his portraits are among some of the richest and most telling in the history of art.
This banner features a detail of his monumental portrait of Mrs. Edward L. Davis and her son, Livingston Davis from 1890. The painting, in the collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, is exemplary of Sargent’s portraiture. It highlights his realistic style, which captures the expressions of the sitters and the feel of their physical world. The play of light is masterful, with the figure shown bright and clear in the surrounding darkness. Sargent actually had the subjects pose in their home’s stables, so that he could accurately capture them lighted in this way, just inside the dark stables with no background to distract from their image. The work was exhibited at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1894 to positive reviews.
Only one dramatic portion of the painting is shown on the banner, a closely cropped detail of the young boy’s face. It is easy to see why Sargent is often considered an American Impressionist. His brush strokes are soft-edged and broad, his fascination with light evident, and his modern treatment of his subjects striking. The manner in which the boy is painted also captures a moment of childhood that is transient. His dewy complexion, pouting lips and boyish haircut combine with a penetrating gaze and slight air of insouciance beyond his years. Sargent has captured this moment between childhood and adolescence in a brilliant manner. His works are often placed in the company of those of his French Impressionist contemporaries like Monet, Renoir, and Degas.
Below the image is a turquoise band with white text that simply reads “Great Art”. The banner was designed to span a street lamp post, so hanging two banners side-by-side would create a large, complete image. The other side of the banner completes the image, showing a continuation of the front image. This is framed in a turquoise band with the museum’s website in white letters “www.lacma.org”.
These banners were displayed around Los Angeles to promote “Great Art” in the collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Other banners in the series feature works by Amedeo Modigliani, Frans Hals and Hashiguchi Goyo.
American painter John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) was born in Florence, Italy to expatriate parents. His work was heavily influenced by his European travels and French training, and is difficult to categorize. He worked in many media including watercolor, oil, and charcoal. He painted landscapes, genre scenes, murals, and portraits. His style owed much to the techniques of both the Old Masters and the Impressionists. Sargent remains today most recognized for his portraiture. He died in England, where he had spent most of his working life, at the age of 69.
Exhibition: Great Art at LACMA
Material: Printed 2-ply vinyl
Dimensions: 35" x 96"
(88.9cm x 243.8cm)
Summary John Singer Sargent is a great portraitist who captured a certain elegance among the elite class in the late 19th century. 18 banners featuring a detail of his 1890 "Portrait of Mrs. Edward L. Davis and Her Son, Livingston Davis" are now available. The focus of the banner is the young boy, whose delicately painted features and penetrating gaze give the banner a dramatic impact.
Hanging your banner
Hanging your banner is easy – just put a few screws in the wall or ceiling and PRESTO, you’re ready to display your beautiful banner. To make it even easier, each BetterWall banner comes with a free hanging system that gives the impression that your banner is floating just an inch off the wall. Your 2-ply museum banners is constructed with two layers of vinyl stitched and glued together. One side of the banner will hang more smoothly than the other due to this layered construction – this is considered the front of the banner.
Caring for your banner
Your banner is a unique and durable piece of art. Having been displayed outside, it has weathered the elements and remained beautiful—so it can obviously take a lot of wear and tear! Slight scuffs, small smudges, or minor creases are not noticeable when the banner is hung, and are a part of the banner’s authentic appeal.
Storing your banner
When not on display, your banner can be rolled and stored in the tube provided. Always roll your banner from the bottom up with the front facing the outside of the roll and place it in a cool place.