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The Cover
May 12, 2010

Portrait of Sadakichi Hartmann

JAMA. 2010;303(18):1788. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.548

The long career of art critic Sadakichi Hartmann was both brilliant and notorious. He wrote an authoritative History of American Art (1901) and published hundreds of interviews and essays, many of them calculated to offend readers who did not share his views on the role of sex and religion in art. In the 1930s Hartmann became infatuated with Hollywood and fell in with a hard-drinking band of rakes that included the painter John Decker, writer Gene Fowler, and actors John Barrymore, Errol Flynn, W. C. Fields, and Anthony Quinn. Fowler and Fields described Hartmann, admiringly, as an attention-seeking, egotistical sponger. Hartmann had a facility for engaging brilliant, creative people in conversation, ruminating on their insights to develop his own ideas about art and life, and then dropping their names in future conversations. This facility served him well as an art critic, partygoer, and muse. He befriended and mentored many painters and photographers, whom he called his “art children,” and he was happy to have them paint or photograph him as often as they liked. A 1970 exhibition at the University of California, Riverside included more than 40 paintings, photographs, and sculptures of Hartmann by various artists, including Portrait of Sadakichi Hartmann (cover ), by Ejnar Hansen (1884-1965).

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