American, 1856-1925

Portrait of Montgomery Sears Bradley, ca. 1924

pencil on paper
inscribed and signed lower center "To Mrs. Bradley / John S. Sargent"
10 x 14 inches

  • Provenance: The artist; Helen Sears Bradley, Boston, Massachusetts; Private Collection, Connecticut.
  • Notes: This work has been reviewed and accepted by the John Singer Sargent Catalogue Raisonné vetting committee as a genuine work of the artist.

    This work is listed in the Catalog of American Portraits, a research archive of the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, under object number MA990068.

    Framed dimensions: 21 1/2 x 17 1/2 x 1/2 inches

    John Singer Sargent has become synonymous with American Impressionism. His legacy of gilded age portraits captured both American and European clients at the turn of the century. Born in Florence in 1856, Sargent grew up internationally with deep New England roots. Sargent's parents left Philadelphia for Europe in 1854 to visit and stayed, becoming expatriates and wintering in Florence, Rome or Nice and spending their summers in the Alps or other cooler regions.

    As a result of their itinerant lifestyle, Sargent received little regular schooling. He learned Italian, French and German and studied under his father's tutelage. He also became an accomplished pianist and his mother, an amateur artist, encouraged him to draw. In the winter of 1873-74, he enrolled in his first formal art training at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence. In 1874, Sargent traveled to Paris to study in the atelier of Carolus-Duran. There, Sargent became Durand's protege studying painterly Old Master works by artists like Frans Hals, Rembrandt, Sir Anthony van Dyck and, especially, Diego Velazquez.

    In May of 1876, accompanied by his mother and sister, Sargent made his first trip to the United States to visit the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia and Niagara Falls. Back in Europe, Sargent traveled extensively visiting Spain, Holland and Venice. He painted genre scenes and portraits with similarities to the works of Claude Monet whose paintings he may have seen at the 1876 second Impressionist exhibition.

    By 1882, there was an increasing demand for his commission portraits and it became evident that these would come to define his reputation. In 1884, he stunned the Salon with his portrait Madame X. Breaking from the conventions of pose, modeling and treatment of space, Sargent embraced the painterly influences of Valezquez, Titian and Manet–shocking audiences twenty years after Manet's Le Déjeuner sur L'Herbe.

    In 1886, Sargent moved permanently to London. Patrons there were initially reluctant to grant him commissions fearful of his "French Style." Sargent spent this time working on his own projects and regularly visiting Monet in Giverny and spending the summers in the Cotswolds painting en plein air. He visited the United States on trips between 1887 and 1889 painting portraits of prominent Americans. By the 1890s his portraits had become so conspicuous that the British aristocracy began to grant him commissions.

    At the turn of the century, tired of commission portraits, he benefited from large commissions for the murals at the Boston Public Library, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library at Harvard University. By 1907, he was able to focus on travel and watercolors and retire from portraiture.

    In 1895, during his visit to Boston to install the first murals at the Boston Public Library, Sargent visited his dear friend Sarah Choate Sears. He painted her daughter Helen Sears at six years old in a famous portrait now at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. The present drawing, a portrait of Montgomery Sears Bradley, captures the likeness of Helen Sears' son–a testament to the enduring friendship between Sargent and Sarah Choate Sears.

    Tags: works on paper, American Impressionist, American Impressionism, child, portrait, Boston, 20th century
  • Condition: overall very good condition; slight toning to paper

    We are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Shannon’s is merely a subjective qualified opinion. Frames on all paintings are sold "As Is". Frames may need some conservation. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD “AS IS” IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE. 

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