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John Singer Sargent

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
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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.

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The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Background images: Photography by Todd Eberle unless otherwise noted. © 2006 Todd Eberle.