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John Singer Sargent Portraits

portrait of two women by John Singer Sargent

If a genie granted me the ability to bring one artist back from the dead to create a portrait of myself or a loved one, without thinking too hard about what it might mean for the artist (“you brought me back for what?!”), I’d pick John Singer Sargent. I’m curious about which artists come to mind for others, if anyone wants to chime in.

Above is “Ena and Betty, Daughters of Asher and Mrs Wertheimer,” from 1901, part of the Wertheimer Portraits. I love their hands in this image.

Discussion  19 comments

Jason KottkeMOD

I'm going to be boring and say van Gogh, but I don't think my appearance has enough swirliness to make a compelling end result.

Richard Roper


Lisa S.

Klimt comes to mind.


I sometimes imagine that Klimt made a drawing of me and named it "Lasciviousness, Part II".

History decided that it was not a sequel worth keeping.

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Moijo Jojo

i third sargent but also would love leighton


I'm a bit of a Sargent freak so I can't find fault with the picture. His exhibition here showcasing his works from Spain was spectacular. I may have danced happily when I got in front of a couple of pieces.

Andrew Lilja

My introduction to Sargent was actually on this very blog! He quickly become one of my favorites.


I would give up something very dear to me to any genie or witch or god who could bring Alice Neel back to paint my

Ryan Nee

Alice Neel is a great pick!

My second pick would be Rogier Van Der Weyden. The facial expressions in Decent from the Cross (1435) are astonishing.

Bill Amstutz

Love the Alice Neel choice. But I’d love to see my craggily face and dark clothes painted by Rembrandt.

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Andrew Lilja

This also reminds of me his Portrait of Madame X. Its subject is dressed very similarly to the women here and absolutely scandalized Paris high society in 1884 — this one is from seven years later, and clearly influenced by it. Madame X was accused of being borderline pornographic, so I have to wonder if Ena and Betty were intentionally trading on that here by associating themselves with something that would still have been considered so powerfully transgressive.

Also, the linked Wikipedia article is one of those rare gems that is both highly factual and a fascinating read.

Laura VW

This portrait of Lady Brownlow has long been a favourite of mine - I find the way the dark sky contrasts with her pale colouring so striking.

Edith ZimmermanMOD


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Why resurrect the dead when Michel Gondry is still around?

(Was it on here that I heard about him doing portraits of people for $5?)


Käthe Kollwitz. so much of her work depicts horror and suffering and pain and maybe that’s why when she did capture joy, it left such and impression on me

Edith ZimmermanMOD

New to me. Beautiful. Thank you for posting this

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Victor Holland

Ilya Repin, of course. I realize I've been longing for someone to ask me this question for quite some time.

Edith ZimmermanMOD

Had to look him up. Now I want one too

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Oooh, great question. I think I'd have to go with one of the Spanish greats - Ribera, Goya or Velazquez. Maybe my choice is influenced by my long-awaited upcoming trip to the Prado!

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