On loan to The Met The Met accepts temporary loans of art both for short-term exhibitions and for long-term display in its galleries.
John Singer Sargent American
Not on view
Sargent and novelist Henry James (1843–1916) were the two greatest recorders of the transatlantic social scene in their respective arts and close friends for more than forty years. James remained an acute and supportive critic of Sargent’s work, while the artist paid tribute to his friend’s writings.
In 1913, a group of James’s friends decided to commission a portrait in celebration of his seventieth birthday. Sargent was the obvious choice despite confiding to the novelist that having "stopped portraiture for these past three or four years, he had quite ‘lost his nerve’ about it." Sargent’s painting is a masterly study of an enigmatic literary genius and a sympathetic depiction of an aging friend. James’s pose, with his thumb hooked into the armhole of his vest, suggests studied informality. His domed head is luminous with intelligence.