American artist John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) is best known for his portraits. He didn't always enjoy painting them (JAMA cover, June 25, 2003), especially if a client wanted to chat while the artist was trying to concentrate, but he was good at it, and portraits paid the bills. Sargent's father was an eye surgeon who left his Philadelphia practice to take his wife on a European vacation. The vacation was extended year after year, financed by the family's savings and what his father could earn as a medical illustrator. Sargent's parents taught him about art, music, and literature, and the family visited churches and museums as they traveled from one European resort to another. In his teens, he received instruction from the French painter Carolus-Duran, who helped develop his talent for painting the human face. At the time, Sargent was more interested in painting landscapes than portraits, but commissions for portraits were easier to come by, so Sargent took the path that was open to him. He painted hundreds of portraits in his career, including many of children.
Cole TB. Portrait of Dorothy (Dorothy Williamson). JAMA. 2011;305(20):2044. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.614
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