Books Magazine

John Singer Sargent Painting: "Zuleika". The Farce -- and Artifice -- of Beauty.

By Josiebrown @JosieBrownCA

She certainly looks that way, here.

Who was she? The wife of a friend, perhaps? There are a series of poems based on a character by that name. Turns out Sargent was friends with humorist Max Beerbohm, who was working on a contemporary novel by that title, about a woman by that name whose beauty was so great that her merely stepping off a train to visit her grandfather in Oxford caused men to obsess over her -- to the point of committing mass suicide.

This Sargent painting and Beerbohm's novel might have been the very first product cross-promotion -- multi-platforming in its earliest form. 

More than likely, it was Sargent's way of jibing Beerbohm -- payback for the latter's caricutures of the revered painter.

Notice the subject's eyebrows are  just one wave of black paint. Sargent's downward point-of-view is filled with realistic shadowing. The grass is a riot of green, blue and yellow hues which play tricks on the mind: we envision individual blades of grass, and dappled sunlight.

I love that he caught her reading. Is  Proust? Dickens? Baudliere? Possibly The Works of Max Beerbohm.

 Art is fun, and can be funny, too,

-- Josie

HA-Vacation-to-Die-For-Final

My latest novel is

The Housewife Assassin's
Vacation to Die For

Now out, in

Amazon.com

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Pick up the first book in The Housewife Assassin series, for free!


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