Sargent's Studio: Boulevard Berthier, Paris   (Frontpage)  (What's New)  (Thumbnails)  (Refer This Site)
Madame X
The Breakfast Table
Dwarf with a Mastiff, Copy after Velázquez 
Studio: Boulevard Berthier, Paris
This is Sargent's studio at 41 Boulevard Berthier, Paris. He moved here in June of 1883. On the 23rd of that month Vernon Lee visited and then wrote to her mother regarding the place.  The studio did have some history to it as it had previously been occupied by Alfred Stevens (Belgian painter in Paris, 1823–1906). 

Although "invested" in the house, according to Vernon Lee, he really didn't spend that much time there. His appointment book was filled with dates outside of Paris, spending a great deal of time in England before eventually taking a lease on Tite Street. By March of '86 he saw the folly of keeping his Berthier studio and gave it up to Giovannie Boldini. 

The photo was probably taken right before the Salon of 1884 (though I'm guessing). His painting of Madame X is to his left and appears ready for show. On the easel which he faces, is the painting of his sister he did in January called The Breakfast Table. Behind Madame X, and hanging on the wall, is Dwarf with a Mastiff, which was a copy after Velázquez's  painting which he made at the Prado in Madrid. The porcelain dolls sitting on the mantel over the doorway and the tapestries are reflective of Sargent's taste in the modern movement and attitudes prevalent in Paris at the time for all things Japanese -- especially prints. This profoundly influenced the Impressionists (the influence was called Japonisme). 

It's interesting that the tapestry to his left, which appears to be covering his bed, he would later use as the backdrop to his portrait of Lady Agnew of Lochnaw.  



Subject: Sargent's Paris Haunts 
From: William Forward
<wf or> 
Date :  Sun, 27 Jan 2002  

dear natasha, 

i'm soon on my way to paris and wondering if any of the haunts of jss's early years are still standing. i'm thinking of carolus-duran's atelier, sargent's first studio (shared with beckwith), etc. is it worth trying to follow the trail? 

william forward 

From: Natasha 
Date 28, Jan, 2002 

Dear William, 

if you were hoping I might be a wet blanket, you sure came to the wrong person. I think it's a capital idea. I'm afraid, though, I haven't a clue as to whether they are still there or not. You are hereby deputized as an official correspondent of the JSS Gallery, so go forth with camera and stencil pad and report back of your findings. 

Good luck my dear boy, and bring back a trophy 


From: William Forward  
<wf or>   
Date: Sat, 02 Feb 2002  

Dear Natasha, 

While I'm afraid boyhood is past, I'm up to the task in spirit, and I happily accept my mission. It may drive my family a little crazy, but I can't wait to steal away and track down whatever remnants I can find, digital camera and notebook in hand. My list of likely sites now includes the Boulevard Berthier studio, Carolus-Duran's atelier, the Sargent/Beckwith studio, and the boarding house where JSS lived while a student. If you have any other thoughts, I'd love to hear them. 

your deputy, 

Bill Forward 

PS -- just to fill you in a little, I'm an actor and painter (primarily portraits), living in Los Angeles. 

Editor's Note -- Natasha asked if he had the addresses of the various places. 

From: William Forward  
<wf orw>   
Date: Mon, 04 Feb 2002  

Here's what I have so far: 

Carolus-Duran's atelier was at 81 boulevard Montparnasse [seen it also printed Mont Parnasse]. (My impression is that it was upstairs). 

The studio Sargent and Beckwith shared was at 73 bis, rue Notre Dame des Champs. (I'm not exactly sure what "bis" means, but it's something like 73a -- Augustus St. Gaudens had the studio at 49 rue N.D. des C., apparently very close by). 

At least early on, JSS lived in a boarding house at 19 rue de l'Odeon. 

The studio at 41 boulevard Berthier appears to have been, coincidentally, at 41 blvd Berthier. 

And that's what I've got, gleaned from the various books. I'm assuming they're good and hoping busy bureaucrats haven't messed with the numbers in the intervening years. We'll see. 


From Natasha 
Date: Tue, 04 Feb 2002  

Sounds like you got it all under control. I would assume pretty much everything is close to the Latin Quarter, and he probably walked everywhere so it can't be that dispersed. The The Ecole des Beaux-Arts might have something on Sargent and Carolus-Duran's atelier, but taking the time to find the right person to ask might be more than your poor family could bare -- if they try to get you committed (your family) I'll pass around a hat and see if we can scrape up a few dollars to spring you.  

Have fun, and I look forward to hearing from you. 


Editor's note -- Willaim either got busy or he couldn't find it, since I haven't yet heared back from him. 

From: Gregory  
<c uk>  
Date: Wed, 06 Nov 2002  


Seeing that I currently live in Paris, it is no problem for me to have checked out the address.  Currently, that number [41 boulevard Berthier] no longer exists.  I will have to check out eventually if it is because the street has been re-numbered or if the original building at #41 has been torn down and replaced with some other architectural monstrosity.  

When I get some time and am in the area, I will be most happy to do this for you. 

What is strange about this address is the fact that it is so far away from the world.  The majority of "mondain" artists lived much closer to the center of Paris either in the Montmartre area or in the 9th arrondissement or even closer to the Seine. 

By the way, do you have any information as to where Sargent shopped for his art supplies whilst in Paris?... just a curious question. 



From: Natasha 
Date: Wed, 06 Nov 2002 

I don't remember reading anywhere where he bought his supplies. It will be interesting to hear if somebody else can come up with something. 


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By:  Natasha Wallace
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Created 12/19/2001 merry Christmas