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Violet Sargent

1890 Augustus Saint-Gaudens Born: Dublin, Ireland 1848 Died: Cornish, New Hampshire 1907 Jaboeuf et Bezout Fondeurs (Founder) bronze relief 50 x 34 in. (126.9 x 86.4 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Rose Pitman Hughes 1970.39 Smithsonian American Art Museum
2nd Floor, East Wing

Gallery Label

Violet Sargent came from Europe to New York in the company of her brother, the portraitist John Singer Sargent. At a party given at William Merritt Chase's studio, she met Augustus Saint-Gaudens, who asked to create her portrait. Her brother agreed, promising in return to paint the sculptor's son, Homer. This relief panel is slightly curved, so that it captures the light and the bronze takes on different colors.

Saint-Gaudens made unusual choices to create this work. This was part of an informal exchange of tokens between artists, but the sculptor gave the portrait the monumental and timeless gravity of a public memorial. The sculptor chose not to give Violet a conventional, formal pose, but caught her in the act of humming a pitch and tuning her guitar, as though she would shortly sing for her friends. Like an ancient Greek grave marker, this relief captures a fleeting and informal moment in Violet's life. It compresses into one image a love of music, learning, and art that characterized the circle of friends and fellow artists around the Sargents.

Exhibition Label, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2006


Performing arts - music - guitar

Portrait female - Sargent, Viola

sculpture - relief

metal - bronze

About Augustus Saint-Gaudens

Born: Dublin, Ireland 1848 Died: Cornish, New Hampshire 1907

About Jaboeuf et Bezout Fondeurs

More works in the collection by
Augustus Saint-Gaudens

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Jaboeuf et Bezout Fondeurs

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