I'd have liked to have read about a woman, who like the previous three, were not well-known. Sally kept up appearances as best she could despite not being able to afford them. The book is divided into four chapters, each chapter tells the life story of one woman whose portrait was painted by John Singer Sargent. They were each from wealthy families, representative of the Gilded Age 1870-1900 —a period where a few industrialists became fabulously rich due to rampant industrialization. Sargent rose to prominence by painting all the movers and shakers of the day. The second part of the summer newsletter the was sent June 8 went to customers of 106 independent bookstores, with a combined total of 348,000 subscribers.
The second woman is as vague as her portrait which is only a side view with her face wrapped in a scarf. Collection of Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. This was a moving biographical sketch. Sargent himself is mentioned throughout, and we do learn a bit about his life here and there. Sargent said she had the face of a Madonna. Sally Fairchild was so beautiful that all sorts of rich and famous men asked for her hand in marriage. Veiled Sally Fairfield was painted, while her plainer sister Lucia Fairchild Fuller, inspired by Sargent, painted miniature portraits to support her husband and children.
Lucia paid a high price for youthful love, but created great and unrecognized art. And Elizabeth—everyone thought she would never marry; she was always supposed to take care of everybody else. By the time I got to the third, I couldn't help wondering if the author couldn't have found more depressing women's lives to represent Sargent's subjects if she tried. Witness the moment of discovery with Jamestown Rediscovery archaeologists as they excavate James Fort site. We enjoyed her rebellious nature and her contributions to the art world.
Was the portrait done because the subject was famous or the artist was? I was especially fascinated by the picture that emerged of the lives led by the extremely wealthy during the gilded age. Last but not least, in Chapter 4 we learn about Isabella Stewart Gardner who was by far the favorite among my students. With the two others, he was a bit more in their lives. And Sargent painted her a number of times. The key works are the two versions of the Oyster Gatherers of Cancale, painted in 1878 on the northern coast of Brittany in France, and the group of studies and sketches around them. She may not have been beautiful but she was one smart and headstrong woman. I knew nothing about any of these women before I read this book.
The third portrait is the most beautiful yet. Elsie Palmer was the daughter of an American railroad baron and an ailing, demanding mother. The newsletter, which is branded with each store's logo, also includes an interview from Bookselling This Week with the author whose book was chosen by booksellers as the number-one Kids' Next List pick, in this case Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley Knopf Books for Young Readers. Minnie died suddenly, freeing Jack to marry Elizabeth. Chapter 2 is about Sally Fairchild, or rather the portrait was of Sally but the chapter focused primarily on her sister, Lucia, who the author deemed to be the more interesting of the two.
Sargent was hired by many prominent families at the time to paint themselves and their children. On the surface, the era glitters with wealth and beauty: fine clothes, art, grand homes, high living. Sally and their mother, who may be a stereotypical grand dame, indulged themselves in travel and the arts. But he had a very keen interest in the male nude. But my rules were rather simple. They belonged to the upper crust of society of the 19th century.
Maybe it is that the short entry format is not to my taste, but with these portraits, you do not get the gist of their lives. I hope that the actual printed publication is lavishly illustrated, as I admit I spent a great deal of time looking for the portraits and for any further imagery of the subjects. She was the youngest of the four women when she sat for Sargent to paint her portrait. This he did and soon after went insane. Still, Lucey ably pulls these four compelling women out of obscurity with insight and infectious enthusiasm. She has been the subject of several books a point which only makes me question the exclusion of Virginie Gautreau and inclusion of Sally Fairchild This was an interesting chapter providing a brief biographical sketch of Belle Gardner, or Mrs. And why would any woman be attracted to a man of that quality? The only person who seems to enjoy life in this book is Isabella Stewart.
Unfortunately, now I have to be more circumspect in what I buy for the long haul. Like many artists before him, Sargent painted commissioned portraits on the Continent, in England, and in the United States, in order to make a living. I have to admit that Sargent and Boston Brahmins have not been in my reading life with any consistency heretofore. Sargent painted other subjects but he was most famous for his portraits. Sargent painted the beautiful young Boston heiress Sally Fairchild with a translucent veil alluringly hiding her face, but it was her less attractive sister Lucia who went on to some fame as an artist and miniaturist. Sargent painted Isabella Stewart Gardner twice, once in youth and once shortly before her death at age 82. Surprisingly, V If you have ever looked at the faces of the women in John Singer Sargent's Gilded Age portraits and wondered about their lives, this is the book you need to read.