John Singer Sargent’s engagement as an official war artist during the First World War is an involved and protracted story. It led to the creation of his masterpiece Gassed, a highlight of the Frist Center’s exhibition World War I and American Art, and to a sequence of remarkable watercolors painted near the front line. It was followed by General Officers of World War I, a group portrait of British and Commonwealth commanders. In this lecture, Richard Ormond places these works in the context of Sargent’s career by analyzing the artist’s response to the horrors of war, tracing the sources of his inspiration, and charting the stages of his artistic process.
By Richard Ormond