Although considered one of America’s greatest painters, Sargent spent relatively little time in this country. He was born in Florence, Italy, to American parents and did not come to America for the first time until he was twenty. He traveled extensively throughout Europe, making extended stays in Venice, Paris, and southeast England. This painting was once thought to have been executed in Broadway, a village in Worcestershire, England, where Sargent summered for several years. It is now believed that the subject is the dining room of Sargent's studio at 33 Boulevard Berthier, Paris, which he occupied from 1883 to 1886.
Sargent is best known for his portraits of prominent individuals on both sides of the Atlantic, yet from his childhood he preferred to paint evocative images of the far-flung places and peoples he discovered in his travels. His work ranges from charcoal sketches and remarkable watercolors to oils informed by the everyday subjects and painterly brushwork of the French Impressionists, many of whom he knew. Three of the sketches shown on the back wall of this dining-room scene have been identified as those he made of a friend, the French artist Paul Helleu.
Oil on canvas
Purchased with funds given by Mrs. Henry Tomlinson Curtiss (Mina Kirstein, class of 1918) in memory of William Allan Neilson.
ID Number: SC 1968:10