Portrait of a Lady

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John Singer Sargent.org

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John Singer Sargent


John Singer Sargent was an Italian-born American painter whose portraits of the wealthy and privileged provide an enduring image of Edwardian-age society.

John Singer Sargent was born in 1856 in Florence, Italy. He earned early acclaim for his promise as a portraitist, although he drew harsh reviews for his exhibition of Madame X at the Paris Salon of 1884. He reclaimed a favorable reputation by the end of the decade, and by the early 20th century he was devoting more time to war-themed paintings, landscapes and watercolors. Sargent died in 1925 in London, England. (more at Biography)

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Madame X is the informal title of a portrait painting by John Singer Sargent of a young socialite named Virginie Amélie Avegno Gautreau, wife of Pierre Gautreau.

The model was an American expatriate who married a French banker, and became notorious in Parisian high society for her beauty and rumored infidelities. She wore lavender powder and prided herself on her appearance.

Madame X was painted not as a commission, but at the request of Sargent. It is a study in opposition. Sargent shows a woman posing in a black satin dress with jeweled straps, a dress that reveals and hides at the same time. The portrait is characterized by the pale flesh tone of the subject contrasted against a dark colored dress and background.

For Sargent, the scandal resulting from the painting’s controversial reception at the Paris Salon of 1884 amounted to the failure of a strategy to build a long-term career as a portrait painter in France, though it may have helped him establish a successful career in Britain and America. (more at wiki)



Beautiful embellishment!

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The first step to understanding fraktur is to look carefully at a few specimens and note what you see. Generally, the text of the piece is central to the composition and is surrounded by ornamental embellishment. Further, the text is of a distinctive style, marked by angularity and obviously of the “gothic” family. The overall appearance is that of folk art. The language is German.

Folk life scholar Don Yoder confirms and explicates these observations. He defines fraktur as “the manuscript art of the Pennsylvania Germans.” (more)

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(Linda Carol)

Fraktur art and calligraphy is often found in baptismal or wedding certificates.

Learn more about Fraktur art here.


Punxsutawney Phyllis

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Punxsutawney Phyllis by Susanna Leonard Hill

When groundhog Phyllis grows up, she wants to be Punxsutawney Phil, the official weather forecaster on Groundhog Day. Unfortunately, as her family points out, Punxsutawney Phil has never been a girl. Phyllis knows she can do the job, though, and when she wakes on February 2, and recognizes the signs of an early spring that her old uncle Phil misses, everyone realizes her dreams aren’t so farfetched.

Activities from Susanna Hill, author

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Illustrator, Jeffrey Ebbeler

Watch on youtube