Aestheticism and the Gilded Age

Though American, both Whistler and Sargent worked and exhibited in Europe. Their patrons were often the wealthy industrialists who characterized the Gilded Age.

c. 1862–1900 C.E.

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James Abbott McNeill Whistler, <em>Symphony in White, No. 1: The White Girl</em>
James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Symphony in White, No. 1: The White Girl

Forgoing the tradition of narrative painting, Whistler aspired to create a beautiful "symphony."

Whistler, <em>Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket</em>
Whistler, Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket

A critic accused Whistler of “flinging paint at the public” when he saw this painting, so Whistler sued him.

Kehinde Wiley on John Singer Sargent
Kehinde Wiley on John Singer Sargent

Contemporary artist Kehinde Wiley discusses the seduction of Sargent's portraits as luxury goods and events of class

John Singer Sargent, <em>Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose</em>
John Singer Sargent, Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose

Singer Sargent’s evocative canvas turns a sweet, ordinary scene into a symphony of shapes and colors.

John Singer Sargent, <em>The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit</em>
John Singer Sargent, The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit

Sargent studied the work of Velázquez, and those lessons paid off in this painting of a Bostonian’s daughters.

John Singer Sargent, <em>El Jaleo</em>
John Singer Sargent, El Jaleo

This dramatic dance scene captures a moment in time on an enormous scale.

John Singer Sargent, <em>Madame X (Madame Pierre Gautreau)</em>
John Singer Sargent, Madame X (Madame Pierre Gautreau)

It was all fun and games until the artist painted a woman’s bare shoulder and showed it to a scandalized public.

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