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The Fountain, Villa Torlonia, Frascati, Italy

John Singer Sargent1907

The Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago

As one of the most sought-after and prolific portraitists of international high society, American expatriate John Singer Sargent painted the cosmopolitan world to which he belonged with elegance and a bravura touch. Born to American parents residing in Italy, Sargent spent his early adult life in Paris, moving to London in the mid-1880s. The artist traveled frequently, and it was during these trips that he experimented most extensively with painting en plein air, or outdoors. Set in a sunlit garden in the central Italian town of Frascati, this charming double portrait depicts Sargent’s friends and fellow artists Wilfrid and Jane Emmet de Glehn. The painting is filled with light, displaying Sargent’s characteristically dazzling surface articulated with thick impasto and virtuoso brushwork. Jane described the work as a “most amusing and killingly funny picture” in a letter to her sister Lydia. She continued: “I am all in white with a white painting blouse and a pale blue veil around my hat. I look rather like a pierrot, but have a rather worried expression as every painter should who isn’t a perfect fool, says Sargent. Wilfrid is in short sleeves, very idle and good for nothing, and our heads come against the great ‘panache’ of the fountain.”

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  • Title: The Fountain, Villa Torlonia, Frascati, Italy
  • Creator: John Singer Sargent (American, 1856-1925)
  • Date Created: 1907
  • Physical Dimensions: 71.4 × 56.5 cm (28 1/8 × 22 1/4 in.)
  • Type: Painting
  • External Link: The Art Institute of Chicago
  • Media: Oil on canvas
  • Credit Line: The Art Institute of Chicago, Friends of American Art Collection, 1914.57
  • Artist: John Singer Sargent (American, 1856-1925)

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