Artwork Title: Nonchaloir (Repose)

Nonchaloir (Repose), 1911

John Singer Sargent

Artwork Title: Nonchaloir (Repose)Artwork Title: Nonchaloir (Repose)Artwork Title: Nonchaloir (Repose)Artwork Title: Nonchaloir (Repose)Artwork Title: Nonchaloir (Repose)
Sargent's inordinate technical facility, coupled with his ability to portray elegant sitters in sumptuous surroundings, made him extremely popular with wealthy patrons on both sides of the Atlantic. Despite his success as one of the most sought–after portraitists of the late Victorian era, Sargent eventually became exasperated by the whim and vanities of prominent sitters. By 1909 he had abandoned conventional portraiture in order to "experiment with more imaginary fields." The Woman in Repose is Sargent's niece, Rose–Marie Ormond Michel. In keeping with his newfound preference for informal figure studies, Sargent did not create a traditional portrait; rather, he depicted Rose–Marie as a languid, anonymous figure absorbed in poetic reverie. The reclining woman, casually posed in an atmosphere of elegiac calm and consummate luxury, seems the epitome of nonchalance—the painting's original title. Sargent seems to have been documenting the end of an era, for the lingering aura of fin–de–siècle gentility and elegant indulgence conveyed in Repose would soon be shattered by massive political and social upheaval in the early 20th century. ( Finally, the sleeping beauty of Repose is Rose-Marie Ormond (1893-1918), Sargent’s niece and frequent subject. Recognize the pattern of her silk wrap amidst the plush furnishings? Done in 1911, this work represents the luxury and elegance of an era soon to end in the destruction of World War I, which also claimed the life of the sitter.* But isn’t it best to remember Rose-Marie on a peacetime afternoon, slumbering quietly before her uncle’s admiring eyes? *Rose-Marie Ormond died during the German shelling of Paris in 1918. ( In this portrait of the artist's niece, Sargent conspicuously displays his mastery of light, color, and texture. He appears to convey, in broad, seemingly offhanded brushstrokes, the precise quality of the most exotic and varied surfaces and fabrics. Sargent painted this purely for pleasure. He probably smirked mildly at the contrast between the resting girl and her elaborate, fluttering skirts which take up more of the couch than she does. Clearly, the various lights and shadows of the complex and contrasting silks, satins, linens, gilt marble, carpet, hair, flesh, and wall delighted him. He nails the satin dress's opalescent sheen by painting the accents (where the light reflects most brightly) with a pairing of very light blue and pink (one cool color and one warm, that together suggest opalescence) in identical high-key values. The whole piece is like that - warm yellow-whites, transparent, zinging blue-greens (viridian? Prussian blue?) glancing off deeply cool lavenders, magentas and mauves. And yet the main colors read, for the most part, as various shades of white, gray, silver, and gold! The man was a magician, pure and simple. ...Exasperated by the demands of his sitters, Sargent proclaimed portraiture to be “a pimp’s profession” and by 1907 resolved never to accept another portrait commission. During his later years, the artist devoted himself to creating decorative murals for public buildings and to painting watercolors and small canvases purely for pleasure In 1911 Sargent vacationed with his sister’s family in Switzerland, where he painted Nonchaloir (“nonchalance”). A casual character study instead of a formal portrait, it depicts Sargent’s niece Rose-Marie Ormond Michel, whom he nicknamed “Intertwingle” because of her agile, intertwined poses. Influenced by the “art for art’s sake” movement, the painter unified the color scheme with the amber light of a lazy afternoon. The straight lines of the posh furnishings in the Swiss hotel accentuate the swift brushstrokes used to delineate his niece’s fingers, hair, cashmere shawl, and satin skirt. ( Also of interest: Why Have Artists Always Found Sleep Such A Fascinating Subject? A brief and dreamy look back at the history of sleep in art. (
Uploaded on Oct 22, 2017 by Suzan Hamer

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