No study in depth has been made of Sargent's frames so far.What follows is a revised version of a text written before the major Sargent exhibition shown at the Tate Gallery, Washington and Boston in 1998-9; pictures are indicated by their number in the accompanying exhibition catalogue by Elaine Kilmurray and Richard Ormond.These notes depend on a scrutiny of the frames as displayed but ideally the frames should be studied from the reverse.
Sargent evidently took a strong interest in the framing of his pictures, but then this was something of a necessity for any portrait painter.
His formative years as an artist were spent in Paris where he trained under Carolus-Duran.
He moved to London in 1886 and achieved great success as a portrait painter, so much so that from 1898 he could command the very sizeable fee of 1,000 guineas for a full length.
In 1907 he announced his intention to retire from portrait painting as a business.
Henceforth he focused on his landscapes and mural paintings while continuing to paint a few portraits in oil, generally as favours for old patrons and friends.