John Singer Sargent's Paintings

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I chose to continue my research on John Singer Sargent for my final paper because of his strong interest in the female image. I wanted to know why Sargent chose women as his main subjects. His works include women of high social class, children of the wealthy and political figures. He also did painting of women in lower classes that he came in contact with in Venice, Capri, Spain and Africa. In this essay I will be discussing his works, the history of the paintings and the meaning behind the women in the paintings.

John Singer Sargent was born 1856 in Florence, Italy. He had 2 sisters; he was close to both of them and often took piano and dance classes together. (The secret life of John Singer Sargent, Telegraph). Sargent was always interested
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He expresses their culture and heritage through the portraits he paints. El Jaleo was painted during Sargent’s five-month travels through Spain and North Africa in 1879. The name of the painting comes from the meaning of Jaleo, which means a ruckus, and for known as the dance Jaleo de jerez. Sargent was very interested in the Spanish Gypsy culture and believed he was in fact half-gypsy. That was not the case, Sargent felt he identified with the gypsy culture, because of his Jewish decent. It was said that having Jewish background helped him understand the gypsy culture. Sargent focuses mainly on the lighting in this work. The shadows of the audience and musicians, sharp edges on the creases of the dancer’s fabric. The dancers hand is heavily detailed and seen pointing in the direction of someone. On the right side of the frame there is a group of women in brighter fabrics. Sargent shows their strong interest in the dancers performance and almost look proud of the dancers technique. Sargent captures a moment in time by showing every expression in the space. What I noticed about the female in the painting was the strength seen in her face and body language. Sargent wanted to show the talent and beauty in this Spanish dancer. Many artists during this time would create a sexual fantasy around t gypsies and peasant women, but Sargent was not looking to paint them with that intent. The dancer is painted with strong arms and shoulders trying to capture her beauty through her dance. This painting was to show more of the Spanish dance

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