Boldini's depiction of Lawrence Alexander "Peter" Harrison is among the most distinguished and sophisticated of Boldini's male portraits. Boldini may have first met Peter Harrison through American artist John Singer Sargent, with whom Boldini was friends and whose portrait Boldini painted in 1889. Peter and his brother Leonard Frederic "Ginx" Harrison, nephews of Robert Harrison of Wargrave, Berkshire, were Sargent's close friends and traveling companions. They accompanied Sargent on his travels to Switzerland and Italy, where Sargent featured them in a series of dazzling watercolor studies, including Group with Parasols, as well as Siesta, both in private collections. Peter was also a British portrait and landscape painter in his own right, who became a member of the New English Art Club in 1904.
Unlike Boldini's official portrait of Peter Harrison, Sargent offers a private glimpse of friendship and casualness in Peter Harrison Asleep, which serves as a striking contrast to Boldini's public portrait. Peter Harrison is shown dozing unaware, his left hand hanging over the side of the bed, his right still propping up a book. Sargent captures the outline of Harrison's towering form, also elegantly conveyed as a salient feature in Boldini's sinuous rendition.
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