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About This Artwork
Madame Paul Escudier (Louise Lefevre), 1882
Oil on canvas
129.5 x 91.4 cm (51 x 36 in.)
Signed, lower right: John S. Sargent 1882
Bequest of Brooks McCormick, 2007.391
John Singer Sargent painted at least two portraits of Louise Escudier. He may have met her through her husband, a lawyer who sometimes worked on behalf of artists. This picture grew out of a series of freely rendered views of women in darkened interiors that the artist produced in Venice between 1880 and 1882. It combines the Impressionists' loose brushwork with a heightened chiaroscuro drawn from Spanish Old Masters such as Diego Velázquez. In such early paintings, Sargent deliberately undercut traditional portrait conventions, prioritizing dramatic effects of light and dark and the creation of radically asymmetrical, yet balanced compositions over clear depictions of his sitters. These portraits helped to establish Sargent's reputation in Paris as an exciting and original painter.
Annual Report (Art Institute of Chicago, 2007-2008), p. 19.
Judith A. Barter et al, The Age of American Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2011), no. 34.