John Singer Sargent was an American portraitist also known for his stunning, jarring landscapes. His painting Gassed is one of the most haunting and defining images of World War I.
Sargent was born in Florence to American parents and began training in Paris in 1874 with the portraitist Carolus-Duran. Sargent’s talent for portraiture became well-known in Paris soon after he began his training, and for several years he worked on commissions for wealthy Parisians.
Sargent’s French success ended abruptly in 1884, when his Portrait Of Madame X was condemned by the Paris art establishment because of its alleged sexual explicitness. Disgraced, Sargent based himself in London, often crossing the Atlantic to make pictures of prominent Americans.
In 1918, the British government commissioned him to go to the front line of World War I to paint a commemorative work of their troops in action. The result, Gassed, depicts a scene of soldiers blinded by mustard gas that Sargent witnessed.
Sargent’s most important portraits include those of President Theodore Roosevelt, the industrialist John D Rockefeller, and the architect Frederick Law Olmsted.