About This Artwork

John Singer Sargent
American, 1856–1925

Life Study (Study of an Egyptian Girl), 1891

Oil on canvas
190.5 x 61 cm (75 x 24 in.)
Signed, upper right: "John S. Sargent"

Anonymous loan, 82.1972

An internationally renowned portrait painter, John Singer Sargent also executed several mural commissions, including a cycle on the history of religion for the Boston Public Library (1890–1919). Sargent traveled to Egypt in 1891 in search of source material and inspiration, painting this full-length figure study in a studio in Cairo. Instead of using the bravura painterly style that characterized his society portraits, Sargent returned to his academic training, carefully modeling the woman’s form and flesh tones. She assumes a complicated pose, placing her weight on her right foot while twisting her upper body to the left. Study from Life was widely exhibited, including at the Salon du Champs de Mars in Paris in 1892 and the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893.

— Permanent collection label

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