In the fall of 1997, I bought what would be the first of many, many books I would subsequently collect on the great turn of the century artist John Singer Sargent: Carter Ratcliff’s “Sargent”.
In the years since that auspicious occasion it is safe to say that Sargent and his work have become one of the minor passions of my life. I remember well browsing the aisles of the superb David Mirvish Bookstore in Toronto (Now sadly gone, and sadly missed – a victim of the internet age) and being stopped in my tracks by the iconic image on the cover of Ratcliff’s tome. Sargent’s famous portrait of Gertrude Vernon, Lady Agnew, is completely familiar to me now, but at the time I was only aware of a feeling that I have once every few years – one that I can only describe as a “hook” firmly placed in the back of my consciousness – A curiosity and interest that grabs me and doesn’t let go. And on that day a seed was planted that would grow into a great obsession for Sargent and his ouvre.
If you’re unfamiliar with Sargent, I will be writing about him a lot, and I hope the images I post will inspire you as much as they have me. Truly one of the great artists of all time.