John Singer Sargent

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John Singer Sargent
(1856–1925)

Portrait of Paul-César Helleu

1880s
Watercolor in tones of brown, tan, cream, gray, rose, and violet over pencil
9 1/4 x 14 3/8 in. (235 x 373 mm)

Gift of Rose Pitman Hughes and J. Lawrence Hughes in memory of Junius and Louise Morgan

2005.5
Item description: 

This is Sargent's depiction of his close friend, the French painter and printmaker Paul César Helleu (1859–1927), whom he met in Paris around 1876. A former student of the academic painter Jean-Léon Gérôme, Helleu established his reputation in the 1890s with portraits of fashionable beauties. In 1912 he painted the ceiling of Grand Central Terminal in New York. The present drawing, begun with a pencil sketch and finished with broad strokes of watercolor brush, exhibits an immediacy characteristic of Sargent's portrait style.