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Title: John Singer Sargent's British and American sitters, 1890-1910 : interpreting cultural identity within society portraits
Author: Moore, Emily
ISNI:       0000 0004 6061 3765
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2016
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Began as a compositional analysis of the oil-on-canvas portraits painted by John Singer Sargent, this thesis uses a selection of those images to relate national identity, cultural and social history within cosmopolitan British and American high society between 1890 and 1910. Close readings of a small selection of Sargent’s portraits are used in order to undertake an in-depth analysis on the particular figural details and decorative elements found within these images, and how they can relate to nation-specific ideologies and issues present at the turn of the century. Thorough research was undertaken to understand the prevailing social types and concerns of the period, and biographical data of individual sitters was gathered to draw larger inferences about the prevailing ideologies present in America and Britain during this tumultuous era. Issues present within class and family structures, the institution of marriage, the performance of female identity, and the formulation of masculinity serve as the topics for each of the four chapters. These subjects are interrogated and placed in dialogue with Sargent’s visual representations of his sitters’ identities. Popular images of the era, both contemporary and historic paintings, as well as photographic prints are incorporated within this analysis to fit Sargent’s portraits into a larger art historical context. The Appendices include tables and charts to substantiate claims made in the text about trends and anomalies found within Sargent’s portrait compositions. This close statistical reading of Sargent’s portrait oeuvre, while at times a subjective exercise, had not before been undertaken on this scale in art historical literature. The resulting data has been compiled to see if there is a correlation between compositional elements and nationality of sitter.
Supervisor: Liz, Prettejohn Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available