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Robert Louis Stevenson and His Wife

John Singer Sargent American

Not on view

Sargent had known Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–1894) since his early years in Paris. He produced three portraits of the noted author. This, the second, was painted in Stevenson’s house in Bournemouth, England, when his literary star was in its ascendancy.
Sargent captures Stevenson’s nervous energy, showing him "walking about and talking." He strides away from his wife, Fanny Stevenson (1840– 1914), who, draped in exotic garb, is the peripheral, and apparently passive, figure in the painting, despite her redoubtable personality. Sargent exploits the distance between them by creating a void beyond the open door at the center of the eccentric composition. Stevenson admired the portrait, noting that it had "that witty touch of Sargent’s; but of course it looks dam queer as a whole."

Robert Louis Stevenson and His Wife, John Singer Sargent (American, Florence 1856–1925 London), Oil on canvas, American

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