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The Cover
June 25, 2003

Mountain Fire

Author Affiliations

The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2003;289(24):3211. doi:10.1001/jama.289.24.3211

He was Europe's and America's society painter, a peripatetic portrait painter who moved between business, social, and intellectual circles in London, Paris, Boston, and New York as easily as though he owned the master key. Wherever he was, he painted that city's rich and famous, sometimes their scandalous as well. Then, in 1908, with some 400 portraits behind him, and still in his early 50s, he shocked international society by announcing that he would no longer accept portrait commissions. "No more portraits," he is reported as saying, ". . . I abhor and abjure them and hope never to do another, especially of the Upper Classes." He would concentrate instead on "real painting": mural decorations for the Boston Public Library and, for his own pleasure, watercolor painting from nature. The murals (he soon received a second commission from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts) and watercolors would occupy the expatriate American painter and draftsman John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) for the remaining years of his life.

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