John Singer Sargent
Young Girl Wearing a White Muslin Blouse, 1882–85
Oil on canvas
19½ x 15 inches
One of the world masters of the portrait, John Singer Sargent achieved fame and success as a painter of high society on both sides of the Atlantic in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His best-known works offer penetrating character studies of well-known figures surrounded by trappings of their status, wealth, and fame—often on a scale befitting the self-image of his subjects.
Yet Sargent sometimes chafed at this role and produced landscapes, mural decorations, and small, intimate portaits such as this. Restricting himself to a relatively narrow palette of whites, browns, and blacks and omitting any background details, Sargent here focuses on the face of the young girl and captures a moment of introspection, if not melancholy.