Broadway: The English Countryside, 1885–1889
In 1885, Sargent decided to move from Paris to London after his provocative portrait Madame X (Madame Pierre Gautreau) caused a scandal at the Paris Salon of 1884 and put his career in jeopardy. Between leaving Paris and settling in London (1885–86), he found solace in the colony of American and English artists and writers who gathered in the picturesque Cotswold village of Broadway, including painters Frank Millet and Edwin Austin Abbey, illustrator Frederick Barnard, and authors Henry James and Edmund Gosse.
Nourished by his contact with Claude Monet, whom he had befriended in the mid-1870s, Sargent continued to experiment with Impressionism while in the British countryside, creating vivid sketches of fellow artists at work outdoors and landscapes as avant-garde as any being produced in England at the time. In preparation for a monumental exhibition painting, Sargent completed a series of engaging pictures showing his friends' children lighting Japanese paper lanterns in a lush garden. In addition to producing portraits of members of the artistic community at Broadway, he also visited Bournemouth, where he captured the wiry frame and nervous energy of writer Robert Louis Stevenson in two intense characterizations (Robert Louis Stevenson and Robert Louis Stevenson and His Wife).