Cosmopolitan Facture: John Singer Sargent and Anders Zorn, 1871-1915

Stone, Elizabeth, History of Art and Architecture - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Betzer, Sarah, AS, University of Virginia

This dissertation demonstrates how the logistics of fin-de-siècle cosmopolitanism, particularly the experience of geographical itinerancy, informed the painting practices of two friendly rivals: John Singer Sargent (1856–1925) and Anders Zorn (1860–1920). The first study to place these artists in dialogue, my project recovers Sargent and Zorn’s shared artistic language, which I have termed “cosmopolitan facture,” and defines this praxis as an extended creative approach informed by their negotiation of picture-making, travel, and transnational social networks. Through a careful scrutiny of their portable sketchbooks, painted surfaces, and preparatory studies, I analyze the ways in which their drawings, paintings, watercolors, and etchings materialize the tension between rootedness and mobility. Centered on four key episodes—The Portrait, The Threshold, The City, The Sea—my dissertation unfolds along three central avenues of inquiry—facture, time, and mobility—through which I discuss the meanings, tensions, and histories of the paintings, drawings, and prints at the center of my project. As my study oscillates between geographical nodes, it expands spatially outward: from the intimate portraits that established transnational collegiality and patronage, to the symbolic resonance of Sargent’s repeated architectural motifs, to Zorn’s depictions of ambiguous modern cities, to the port, sea, and harbor, sites that connect artists, economies, and nations on a global scale.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
John Singer Sargent, Anders Zorn, Cosmopolitan
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