|Accolades and Comments
Realated to Sargent
From: "Steven Matthew Sargent"
i.be l email@example.com>
Date: 2 Dec 2001
Hi, my name is Steven
I'm somehow related to John Singer Sargent, but I'm not sure how. I
I am, and it's not just a common last name. I'm trying to figure out
Date 4 Dec 2001
I can imagine that there might be a large number of people wondering about their possible relation to John Singer Sargent so I put together a brief Genealogy. I hope this helps.
so yl firstname.lastname@example.org>
I just wanna tell you that I LOVE your Singer-Sargent page! Wow man I never knew an index like that existed! I am really happy but I am going to tell a friend about it who will be even happier, seeing as she's a HUGE S-S fan! :) Great job with the site!
|Thank you so much!|
ar r email@example.com>
Simply the best art-site I have seen till date. The chronology pages are superb and I also liked your essays. Thanks to you: I am adding Sargent to my personal list of "gurus" . Have you seen the site: www.roerich.org (Nicholas Roerich Museum). That is another place where you can see the tremendous impact a painter can make.
Just saw you mail...Wish you a merry Christmas and a very Happy new year!
Felt very happy to hear
because it feels good to find somebody who is moved by the same kind of
In Oct 2000, I had the
luck of staying
in the Boston area for about two months, but I am really unlucky I was
ignorant about Sargent's works which could be seen at Harvard. Hey, on
one Sunday, I even went and walked through Cambridge, Harvard and MIT
Tell me Natasha, do you also paint? Have you studied art formally? Just curious to know because of the nice essays and annotations on the paintings on the website.
With warm regards,
Thanks for your beautiful mail.
It was really nice to know how you came to write the essays...brings to mind we an idiom we have in our language "..the vessel fills drop by drop". There are so many things that I would like to do--but in trying to get all of them at one time I fail...but if I do even a little bit of it--slowly I can get more than enough.
Date: Fri, 21 Dec 2001
I wanted to write you before Christmas to let you know how much I enjoyed your note regarding my John Singer Sargent site -- it meant a lot to me since I'm not paid, so it helps to know that what I'm doing is appreciated.
Before you letter, I knew nothing about Nicholas Roerich. what an interesting guy. I wish they had more of his art online.
Best of holidays and happy new year
I love hearing everyone's story about how they discovered Sargent.
I'm in Kansas City, Missouri, which is in the middle of the United States (lower 48 states) just press your thumb smack-dab in the center of the country and you will probably be covering my city, so I don't get to the east coast that much.
I do paint some but don't consider myself an artist and have studied art but don't really have the foundation as an art scholar. One learns as one goers along, I suppose. The ideas that I should annotate the paintings came from a suggestion of Alice Somoroff's back in June of 1999, which made a lot of sense to me. In fact, I get some of my best ideas form you guys. The essays, well, they sort of grew out of wanting to present it in the way I would like to read about art -- you know -- straight forward, person on the street type of stuff. I don't have enough education in art to do it any other way. The Madame X page was my first web page about Sargent, and the whole thing grew out of wanting to footnote to anoxia.
I'm not sure about other people, but there have been history and art books that i've read where I've enjoyed the footnotes more than the main text. Not that the book was bad, just that I dug the footnotes that much more.
So footnotes have begat footnotes, and I found myself footnoting footnotes that had already been footnoted. In fact the whole site, if I really sat back and thought about it, is just one gigantic footnote out of control with no end in sight -- The Venice thing was like that -- I think it must be close to a world record for the biggest footnote ever created. At the current direction of things, I probably won't be finished footnoting until I've been able to explain, to my satisfaction, the critical significance of John Singer Sargent's shoestrings to that of the cosmos.
Eeeak, got to run, I think I see my friends plotting an intervention.
All my best
V an firstname.lastname@example.org
6 Jan 2002
This Sargent site is
I can't figure out the 'WHY' [in
your personal page]. But many thanks.
From: kitt k email@example.com
Thanks for putting
it together. It's a pleasure to browse through.
Because we like you . . . M . . .O . . .U . . .S . . .E 
I don't know, I don't have a good answer for that. And I've answered it in different ways in different places for different people and it never really gets there. Generally I always say when you want to understand motivation, all you have to do is just follow the money . . . . but there is no money here. So you're not going to find my motivation there. If you'll let me steal a quote from Fredrick Law Olmsted, it might get you a little closer anyway.
"I have all my life been considering distant effects and sacrificing immediate success and applause to that of the future."
So, does that answer it?
No? . . . . .No I suppose not.
Maybe it has something to do with what I know the JSS Gallery could be but isn't yet. Every hill I finish only reveals more hills to climb more and greater possibilities. I don't know, if good ol' Olmstead doesn't get us there, then maybe he can buy me a little time until I finish climbing this last mountain -- I'm nearly at the top -- one more footstep -- one more rock -- one more painting -- I can feel it -- honest; and THIS TIME I'm sure I'll finally be able to look back and see it all so clearly. THEN I'll have that answer for you -- I just know it.
Thanks for enjoying it. Your appreciation is, in turn, so very much appreciated!!
PS If by chance
cut it for you. Your more than welcome to read another stab I made at
same question with my answer here
Footnote 1) so you weren't born before 1970 and didn't see it in re-runs or you weren't raised on American pop culture? It's part of the lyrics from the Mickey Mouse Club's theme song: "M . . . I . . . C, . . . see you real soon, . . .K . . .E . . . Y, . . . "Y? Because we like you. . . . M . . . O . . .U . . .S . . .E.
So good to hear from you. I would love to feature an image of "portrait of Mrs. Coolidge" but I don't have an image of it to get online. Could you be so kind as to send one to me. Her contribution not only to the Library of congress but also libraries across the country makes her story an important one and I would love to add it.
It's so wonderful that you would write. It just so happens I'm working with family of George Randolph Barse (whom did mural work for the library of congress) and I want to feature both as an important part of the movement of art and artists during that period -- especially during the city beautiful movement.
From: Valentina Pieroni
v. pi firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wed, 16 Jan 2002
Luckily it occurred to me to get into this site and i'm excited about all the information i've found about Sargent. I'm have been spending hours navigating and enjoying the quality of the images and surprised by the huge quantity of links. And above all it's the joy to meet something that is really accurate and passionate for art lovers.
I first got interested about Sargent when i saw a picture entitled "Girl reading (Corfù)" and since then i'm slowly going through this site discovering little by little his works.
Writing to you was only
to say thanks
Hoping to write to you again to share opinions on Sargent.
P.S.:Capri is one of the
place in the Mediterranean sea, a very little isle few miles off.
Neapolis. Emperor Adriano had a splendid Villa on top its high cliff,
which it is said he threw off his enemies. Its beauty lays within the
between light and darkness, surfaces and depth, shelter and threat, hot
steep exhausting stairs and fresh shaded terrace, something that
Date: Thur, 17 Jan 2002
This is great, you know its really neat, I have been getting a lot of nice comments from people from Italy and I'm so glad you found my site. Were you doing a search for Corfù when you found my site? I'm trying to find some really good old pictures of Capri and so the site is always growing, and I've been reading more and more -- thanks and enjoy
Yes, if you have any
any of the paintings, I would love to add them in the forum of the
From: "Morgan Downie"
sw is email@example.com>
Date: Thu, 31 Jan 2002
Saw some stuff about Sargent on the TV the other day. Decided to look for more esp as I have the Lochnaw pic just up the road. Wow!!! I can't imagine the work you put into this. Well done doesn't do you justice. Excellent, excellent site.
From: "Shanessa Jackson"
sh a firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sun, 17 Feb 2002
Your site is AWESOME! I just had to tell you. John Singer Sargent is my favorite artist. I love his portraits, and my favorites are pretty typical: Lady Agnew, Misses Vickers, and Madame X. Anyway, thanks for a great resource!
|Thanks so much, and hey,
a reason why your favorites "are pretty typical" -- they're mine too.
B lue email@example.com>
Date Tues Feb 19, 2002
[This site is huge! . .
.] what do
you have a little room over there with super-computers and blinking
That has got to be one of
complements I've received yet.
* * *[Thomas was orriginally from Kansas, now a transplant in NYC]
Natasha looked up and jumped when she saw someone peeking into her vast white hermetically sealed room. She quickly tried to pull the curtains around her and grabbed for the microphone attached to the control panel which was blinking and humming. Brushing her hair back over her ear, a great voice of profound authority came booming over the loudspeakers. "No!" the voice came resounding from every corner, "Pay no attention to the woman behind the curtain pushing buttons. She does not know how to get you back to Kansas."
From Edward Materson
e ma firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date Wed Feb 27, 2002
the site you have created is fantastic! I have long been an admirer of Sargent, even in the 60's when some critics referred to him as an "illustrator". As an artist myself he has been a constant source of inspiration. The National Gallery Exhibit was wonderful.
|Thank you, Edward|
From Ralph De Morgan
Date Thur Feb 28, 2002
Dear Natasha: Some time ago I discovered your John Singer Sargent Gallery on the web. I cannot tell you how delighted and impressed I am by it. I refer to it all the time.
Bless you.<> R.D.M.
From Ralph De Morgan
Date: Fri, 1 Mar 2002 >
Hello, Natasha. Thank you for your e-mail. I'm really impressed with your site. It's like a magical labyrinth that keeps unfolding all the time.
In answer to your first question . . . I can't remember when I didn't know Sargent's work. He seems to have always been there. I do remember as a child seeing a copy of "El Jaleo", possibly on the cover of a record album, and beeing totally stunned by it. So... on a scale of 1 to 10, I would say that my knowledge of his work before finding you site was an 8 and a half or so. I have every book on his life and art that I have ever come across, even such relatively academic tomes as "Painting Religion in Public".
I live in the late 19th century. I'm the sort of person who reads Hardy, James and Trollope. My main interests are the Pre-Raphaelites, William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement, Whistler, Lautrec, Japanese ukiyo-e prints, Van Gogh, art nouveau, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Klimt, Beardsley, Max Beerbohm, Mahler, Richard Strauss, Elgar, Verlaine, Puccini, Monet, Degas, Mucha, Leon Bakst and the Ballets Russes of Diaghilev, the Gothic revival, the Symbolists, The Mikado and (of course) Oscar Wilde. This will give you an idea about where my head is at. If you think that my house is filled with blue and white china, Rossetti portraits of Jane Morris, needlepoint, peacock feathers and Tiffany lamps - you're right.
It's more than mere nostalgia. I am intellectually and morally certain that we live in a truly pathetic age and that with the exception of the medical field and a few technological advances (such as recorded music and photographic reproduction), we really haven't progressed in a significant way. Yes, great art was produced in the 20th century, but mainly during the first half or so. At that time artists were still in touch with the sensibilities and the cultural succession of the preceding epoch (belle époque indeed!) and what was considered modern actually grew organically from the rich tradition of the past. In recent decades those links have been severely loosened and often cut, much to our loss. In my opinion that applies not only to the arts in general but to such equally essential components of civilization, such as manners, taste and the sense of honor, personal and collective.
Yes, television and film have a very high potential but that is seldom exploited for cultural benefits. The excessive mass production of material goods (even books) seems to make people appreciate things less and less, as everything is all too accessible (and replaceable) and, therefore, not very special.
In the 19th century the importance of the exquisite and the morally sound (yes, art CAN have a moral quality, as Ruskin reminds us) was taken very seriously indeed. Sargent and his work constantly remind me of that. That is many of the reasons I love his work and that of others like him. I remember once standing in front of a Monet painting and actually surprising myself for bursting in tears at the privilege of being in front of a piece of canvas that the great man touched and filled with those incredibly poetic strokes.
There is nothing of Sargent that I do not love. Even the simplest sketches are magical. There is a stunning sense of unfailing elegance, taste and sheer GRACE about everything he did that takes my breath away. He and the other artists I have mentioned lived at the other extreme end of wherever vulgarity lies. Vulgarity. Now there's a contemporary word for you. I recall a friend wisecracking at midnight on the last New Year of the 20th century: "Well, it was vulgar, wasn't it?"
I guess what I'm trying to get at in a digressing and long-winded sort of way is that Sargent's art (and all great art) has the magical quality of restoring to us all the grace and beauty that contemporary life seldom can (or knows how to) offer. For that life-saving gift I cannot begin to express my gratitude.
As to your second question, what I find most useful in the site so far is your illuminating insights into the paintings. You frequently point out some detail that I hadn't previously appreciated (or not noticed in the same way) and that adds greatly to my own insight and appreciation of the work. I'm very grateful. The invaluable worth of an enhanced and improved way of looking at the things that really matter can never be underestimated. It's a gift that stays with one for a lifetime and people like you are to be praised for providing it. It is indeed a noble endeavor.
Another thing for which I thank you is the opportunity to be able to view some of my favorite paintings while at work, as my computer is at the office. I'm a graphic artist . . . Sometimes, in between tasks, I simply bring up one of your Sargent images and refresh my soul for a few minutes.
Well, I have taken way too much of your time. Again, thanks for the site and for replying to my e-mail. I hope to hear from you again.
My best regards,
Ralph De Morgan Lara
Well, hello Natasha. Thank you so very much for your letter. I'm flattered that you have taken the time to write such a long and interesting message. I don't detect any confrontational tone; if anything, I could say that perhaps I failed to express myself with greater detail.
I agree that a lot of important art was produced during the twentieth century. Some is being produced even now. But the sense of civility, deference and good manners that great art used to evoke has been considerably eroded in our contemporary environment and that has inevitably and perhaps irrevocably affected the future. A lot of what passes for art these days is harsh, coarse and vulgar. People such as Sargent, Hiroshige or Rainer Maria Rilke would just die if they saw what has become of our society (a subject far too vast complex to discuss here). I don't think that our time could produce many people with such sensibilities and, if by some miracle they were to appear, the present zeitgeist would not allow them to produce works comparable (even in updated styles) to those of previous eras. A painter of the nineteenth century could easily invoke the spirit of eighteenth and seventeenth century schools with no problem. Stylistic differences aside, Velazquez, Rembrandt, Goya, Sargent and Whistler have a huge amount in common. These people would have understood one another across the centuries, indeed would have had some terrific conversations (except maybe Whistler; he would have picked up a quarrel with Saint Francis of Assissi!) I don't think the same can be said of any of the leading painters of the day (whoever can be so described I leave up to you - I'm not being snobbish, really).
I agree that were you and I living in the nineteenth century we couldn't possibly be a part of the exalted circle of artists and rich nobs and expatriates who apparently had nothing to do but to travel to Paris, Florence, Venice, Japan, and back again to Paris to start all over again, leaving behind them a trail of five-star hotel bills and champagne bottles. I'll reluctantly admit that my family did have some money in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth, but that is neither here nor there. Your point is well taken the vast majority of people had no access whatever to any of this world of refinement and privilege, let alone the requisite education to comprehend any of it.
I am constantly reminded of poor William Morris and his dismay at trying to create affordable art for what he called "the common folk" and realizing that, even if they could somehow manage to afford it, they didn't want it because they lacked the background and the aesthetic training to understand it. And I'm not blaming them for it - I really understand the pathetic situation of the working class in those days. I know about the high rate of illiteracy, the appalling working and health care conditions (the satanic mills) and the exorbitant expense of travel that doomed most people to spend their entire lives within the confines of their little town or village. Many of those people who could conceivably afford a few things were in no frame of mind to discuss floral chintzes, peacock feathers and iambic pentameters. they had more pressing matters to deal with.
One of the great things I appreciate about the twentieth century (in fact, the latter part of it) is the development of mass media in films, books and audio. I am extremely familiar with all the works of Gustav Mahler, Wagner and Strauss even although I have only been fortunate enough to hear and see a few of them in the concert hall. I have seen most of Sargent's works through accurate color reproductions without leaving my house. I have enjoyed Olivier performing Shakespeare and heard Claudia Muzio and Billie Holiday sing without ever setting eyes on them. For those and countless other gifts I can never be grateful enough. That could only happen in our time.
I hope this letter clarifies my views a little more. I guess it's just that I'm disappointed that art couldn't save the world (not very realistic of me), that it never became the magic element that would unite humanity, and that our standard of taste and appreciation has plummeted to the degree it has. Sure, there are still some enlightened and dear souls such as yourself, but I had expected that the average person would be on a somewhat higher plane by now. It's not that our lives are more hectic, I can live with that. Nor that there's greater pollution, waste, and exploitation. I can adjust that. It's that there are millions of people who have the opportunity and means to acquire a better education and don't even have the remotest desire to do it. The people in the nineteenth century could be excused. They had mostly destitute, ill-equipped schools. They had no access at all to recorded music, plays and documentaries. Photographic reproduction was in its infancy, and, of course, computers were unimaginable. What's our excuse? We have all of these things and more and - I guarantee you - the "common folk" of our time are as uninterested and as uninformed as those of a hundred years ago. That seems to totally deflate the theory that people are not interested in great art only when they are poor, hungry and lack access to it.
[Where I work] I am surrounded by many denizens of the professional class, most of which make much more money that I do. I am constantly amazed at their ignorance of things that you and I would take for granted. These people demand the very best in houses, clothes, cars, restaurants and all the ostentatious, superficial objects of affluence . . . but when it comes to the arts they eat from the gutter. Recently I was told by a co-worker about a fine Mucha reproduction poster she had seen in an art store. She wanted it very much but found it very expensive at $200 even though it was rather large and framed in a gorgeous, elaborate gold leaf frame. I pointed out to her that it was a bargain and that the watch she was wearing, for example, would easily pay for six such posters. She didn't see the point. I could tell you many similar stories.
I live in South Florida. A few months ago we lost our only classical music station which for the past 30 years provided us with our only link to the Metropolitan Opera House in New York and other vocal and concert sites. The musical director of Miami's only symphony orchestra has just resigned after a painful struggle with insurmountable obstacles, foremost among which is an almost absolute lack of public support. I have asked our best booksellers why they don't carry a greater selection of art books (almost everything I buy has to be specially ordered) and I'm told that there's not much call for them. Magazines on art and classical music are hard to get and I have to drive all over town for the two or three stores that carry them. And this is a very large metropolitan area.
I hear of things like
the country. Perhaps where you live things are better. I
hope so. Anyway, I didn't mean to rant like this but the
to share opinions with a sensitive and enlightened mind is always
I very much appreciate your interest in my thoughts and consider myself
quite fortunate that you like many of the same things I do. I
to hear from you again and promise to be much more concise in the
and, as much as possible, stick to discussing our beloved Sargent and
world. There's sooo much I want to share with you .
Ralph de Morgan Lara
Hey I'm just curious. Since you said you discovered the site a while ago, I wonder on a scale of 1 to 10 how much you knew about Sargent before my site and then what part about the gallery you thought most helpful in understanding him more?
Since you come back a lot, I was just curious.
wow. I loved your letter. I had a hunch you probably knew a lot about Sargent and I was just curious as to how someone like you enjoyed my site. From your original note I had sort of pictured someone watching me from afar and only now stepping forward and saying something. You're one of the first I've pressed from such a short accolade. How many others like you have I let slip back into the background without another word? It's always those quiet ones that will just floor you with something profound, but you have to pay attention because they often speak softly.
You do me far too much credit for insights into paintings. Far too much. But if you got a kick out of it, than I am certainly flattered. To be honest, I was expecting that to be at the bottom of the things mentioned. I guess you just never know what people will enjoy.
You do hit on a point that cuts right to the crux of my intended goal here -- or at least one of my intended goals. All that I have built so far and am working towards (with the additions of the various artists around Sargent) and the artists you mentioned and those founded in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts were building on the foundation of the whole history of civilization, and as you stated "grew organically from the rich tradition of the past." What the Beaux-Arts taught (as you know) were that there were certainly unalienable truths proven like mathematical theorems from the Classical Arts and the Renaissance which, shouldn't be just be copied over and over, but used as building blocks to reach yet higher and higher. That was severely severed by the time of World War I. The modern movement of the 20th century seemed to be saying that the whole history of humanity, the whole discourse of art was irrelevant and unreflective of the huge social-economic shifts and changes in modern life. It was as if the only way we could express who we were was by amputating the whole lineage of our collective soul.
There is a part of me that is romantic and longs to have lived in the late 19th century. I agree with you that the hectic life we have today with all our options, we just loose so much in the simple pleasures. And my God, yes! wouldn't it have been fun to have hobnobbed with all those guys. But let's not kid ourselves. You needed a lot of money to have appreciated the life that Sargent and those around him lived. There was a certain double edged blade to the gilded age. If you weren't an intellectual elitist from Harvard, you were completely left out of the loop. That of course became the bastardization of the Beaux-Arts. The cultural snobs of New England and New York had completely shanghaied the whole soul of that period. I don't know about you, but if I were to have lived in the 19th century, I wouldn't have gotten to wear the beautiful dresses or vacationed in the south of France, with trips to Venice, I would have been working in a shoe factory eighteen hours a day, or scrubbing the floors of one of the Vanderbilt homes; and then come home to my ten kids living in my tenement house with hundreds of other families with ten kids.
There were, after all, significant grievances on the part of most artists of the new generation. We can't totally blame them for wanting to pitch the whole elitist culture into the abyss -- I would have been pitching right there with them. The point I'm trying to make (eventually) by building up slowly the supportive evidence in my website (this may takes years, God knows, it may take my whole life the way I'm going) is that just because there were excesses on the part of those who were elitists, doesn't negate the underlying truth in the art that proceeded the revolt of modernism -- that period of time that both you and I just adore.
In fact, its my contention, that it may have taken a hundred years for the common person such as myself -- the people who don't go to Harvard, the people who aren't on the inside loop and control the cultural institutions to fully engage and participate (in a democratic way) in the ideals which Sargent lived for. Today, I will be able to travel to the south of France and Italy. Today, I will have a chance to see the beauty of Florence, and possibly, even before I die, see all those things that Sargent was able to see. You don't have to be a Boston snob, dripping with money to do this anymore, we all can -- or a great many more of us can.
The point is, all that class war is irrelevant. The point is, all those society snobs are irrelevant. The point is, it can be our art now. Today, we can appreciate that whole period for its true esthetic self. There is a reason why Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. There is a reason why the City Beautiful Movement produced some of the most pleasing and stunning public places in the United States. There is a reason why the person on the street, people like myself, connect emotionally, every day, to the architecture of places like Grand Central Station, and the central mall of Washington D.C, The simple reason is, as you said, it "grew organically from the rich tradition of the past." understanding unalienable truths proven in the Classical Arts and Renaissance that weren't just copied but built upon.
Personally I think there is some great modern art being made, and artists doing some great things. I really do appreciate contemporary art. I think today, artists are trying to reconnect the discourse with the full wealth and lineage of our entire shared human culture -- re-embracing the underlying goals of those artists that both you and I adore -- and I think that's a great thing.
Understanding Sargent and those around him is part of that process. When Sargent sold big chunks of his art to major museums, he did so often well under their true market worth, but he wanted it for the people. When Sargent's sisters gifted huge numbers of works of sketches and paintings, it was because they wanted the public to own it and share in it.
I know when you wrote me you weren't expecting this, but I want to thank you for probing me, and inspiring me to think it through. Many people have asked me why? Why do I do it? I do it because I have to. If it wasn't Sargent, it would have been something else. But a loftier goal might be that it fulfills Sargent's intent -- A gallery of his art made by the people and for the people.
It has certainly been rewarding to turn people onto Sargent that knew nothing of his art, but it is especially sweet to learn that one whom has loved John Singer Sargent long before I ever did, and knows much more than I probably ever will, as grown in his appreciation of this truly great artist, by these efforts here.
I am tickled pink and overjoyed with one big fat audible "YES!"
Most gratefully yours,
I'm not sure I agree with what i just wrote, or should I say I'm not sure that what I just wrote quite accurately captures what I was trying to say. One thing that bothers me right off the bat is the confrontational tone. I'm going to probably edit that out, if I leave it at all.
Clearly, I have mixed feelings about some of the down side of that period. Forgive the ramblings, it sometimes helps me formulate some of my ideas.