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John Singer Sargent

Born: 1856, Florence, Italy
Died: 1925, London, England

A Parisian Beggar Girl
c. 1880

Oil on canvas
Image: 25 3/8 x 17 3/16 in. (64.5 x 43.7 cm)
Frame: 31 1/2 x 24 x 2 3/8 in. (80 x 61 x 6.0 cm)
Terra Foundation for American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection, 1994.14
Signed: Lower left: À mon ami Edelfeldt/John S. Sargent
Artist Name: []

Interpretation

Her head and upper body swathed in a white shawl, a young woman stands with her right arm propped on her hip and her left hand extended for alms in John Singer Sargent's A Parisian Beggar Girl. A black fringed scarf is wrapped twice about her waist and tied in front over her white dress and more white fabric pools at her feet. A touch of red on her left arm and pink accents in her dark blond hair provide virtually the only color in this otherwise monochromatic image. Conveying little of humble supplication, the figure leans casually against the white wall of a building whose only feature is a high shuttered window cut off in the upper left corner of the composition.

A Parisian Beggar Girl is one of several works in which Sargent explored exotic themes and settings. The artist traveled widely and in the winter of 1879–80 spent several productive months in southern Spain and Morocco. He painted this work during that period or shortly thereafter on his return to Paris, and soon gave it to his friend, the Finnish painter Albert Gustaf Edelfelt (1854–1905), to whom Sargent inscribed the canvas. A Parisian Beggar Girl was first exhibited in 1906 as Spanish Beggar Girl. The confusion of the two titles may be explained by the possibility that the model was Carmela Bertagna, a Parisian of Spanish or Italian descent who posed for a portrait by Sargent dated to around the time he painted A Parisian Beggar Girl.

Rather than a portrayal of the model's individual identity, however, A Parisian Beggar Girl is a vehicle for Sargent's experimentation with subtle gradations of light and tone. Fluid brushwork accentuates the girl's graceful form and costume and the translucent delicacy of the fabrics. The expression of her face is further obscured by the shadow cast by her head scarf, adding to the touch of mystery evoked by her "oriental" costume and the incongruous note of defiance in her posture.

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Provenance

The artist
Albert Edelfelt (gift from artist)
Paul and Ida Schulze family, Chicago, Illinois, c. early 1920s
Helen Schulze, 1929 or 1931 (daughter of Paul and Ida Schulze)
Descended in family
Sotheby's New York, New York, May 25, 1994, lot 66
Berry-Hill Galleries, Inc., New York, New York, (agent), Terra Foundation for the Arts Collection, Chicago, Illinois, 1994

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Exhibition History

Albert Edelfelt's minnesutställning (Albert Edelfelt's Memorial Exhibition), Ateneum, Helsinki, Finland, 1910.

Memorial Exhibition of The Works of John Singer Sargent, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, November 3–December 27, 1925, no. 12. [exh. cat.]

John Singer Sargent Memorial Exhibition, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York, January 4–February 14, 1926, no. 3.

Extended Loan, Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, Dallas, Texas, 1975–1981, 1985–1989.

Impressions de toujours: les peintres américains en France, 1865–1915 (Lasting Impressions: American Painters in France, 1865–1915), Musée d'Art Américain Giverny, France (organizer). Venue: Musée d'Art Américain Giverny, France, April 1–October 31, 1995. [exh. cat.]

Un regard américain sur Paris (An American Glance at Paris), Musée d'Art Américain Giverny, France (organizer). Venue: Musée d'Art Américain Giverny, France, April 11–October 31, 1997.

American Artists and the Paris Experience, 1880–1910, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois (organizer). Venue: Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, November 22, 1997–March 8, 1998. Giverny: une impression américaine (Giverny, An American Impression), Musée d'Art Américain Giverny, France (organizer). Venue: Musée d'Art Américain Giverny, France, April 1–November 1, 1998.

Ville et campagne: les artistes américains, 1870–1920 (The City and the Country: American Perspectives, 1870–1920), Musée d'Art Américain Giverny, France (organizer). Venues: Musée d'Art Américain Giverny, France, April 1–July 15, 1999; Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, December 10, 1999–May 7, 2000 (in modified form). [exh. cat.]

Héroïque et le quotidien: les artistes américains, 1820–1920 (The Extraordinary and the Everyday: American Perspectives, 1820–1920), Musée d'Art Américain Giverny, France (organizer). Venue: Musée d'Art Américain Giverny, France, April 1–November 30, 2001. [exh. cat.]

D'une colonie à une collection: le Musée d'Art Américain Giverny fête ses dix ans (From a Colony to a Collection: Celebrating the Tenth Anniversary of the Musée d'Art Américain Giverny), Musée d'Art Américain Giverny, France (organizer). Venue: Musée d'Art Américain Giverny, France, March 30–June 16, 2002.

A Place on the Avenue: Terra Museum of American Art Celebrates 15 Years in Chicago, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois (organizer). Venue: Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, November 16, 2002–February 16, 2003.

The People Work: American Perspectives, 1840–1940 (Le Travail à l'oeuvre: les artistes américains 1840–1940), Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois (organizer). Venues: Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, March 15–May 25, 2003; Musée d'Art Américain Giverny, France, June 8–August 17, 2003. [exh. cat.]

American Classics, Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois (organizer). Venue: Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago, Illinois, December 13, 2003–February 8, 2004.

Art in America: 300 Years of Innovation, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York, NY and Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago, IL (organizers). Venues: National Museum of China, Beijing, China, February 9-April 5, 2007; Shanghai Museum, Shanghai, China, April 30-June 30, 2007; Shanghai Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai, China, April 30-June 30, 2007 (Shanghai presentations ran concurrently); The Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow, Russia, July 23–September 9, 2007; Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Bilbao, Spain, October 15, 2007–April 27, 2008. [exh. cat.]

John Singer Sargent: Portraits in Praise of Women, Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York (organizer). Venue: Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York, May 29–December 31, 2010. [exh. cat.]

Art Across America, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; National Museum of Korea, Seoul, South Korea; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago, Illinois (organizers). Venues: National Museum of Korea, Seoul, February 4– May 12, 2013; Daejeon Museum of Art, Daejeon, South Korea, June 7–September 1, 2013. [exh. cat.]

American Impressionism: a New Vision, 1880–1900 (L'Impressionnisme et les Américains/ Impresionismo Americano (French & Spanish titles), Musée des Impressionnismes Giverny, Giverny, France and the Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago, Illinois in collaboration with the National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh, United Kingdom and the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Spain (organizers). Venues: Musée des Impressionnismes Giverny, Giverny, France, March 28–June 29, 2014; Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, United Kingdom, July 19–October 19, 2014; Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid, Spain, November 4, 2014–February 1, 2015. [exh. cat.]

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Published References

Downes, William Howe. John S. Sargent: His Life and Work. Boston, Massachusetts: Little, Brown and Company, 1925. Ill. p. 17 (black & white as A Spanish Beggar Girl).

Charteris, Evan Edward, Hon. John Sargent. New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1927. Text p. 281 (as Parisian Beggar Girl), pp. 51, 282 (as Spanish Beggar Girl).

Mount, Charles Merrill. John Singer Sargent: A Biography. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1969. Text p. 462, no. K8010 (as Beggar Girl).

Sotheby's New York, New York (Sale 6568, May 25, 1994): lot 66. Text lot 66; ill. cover (color detail), lot 66 (color).

Reymond, Nathalie. Un regard américain sur Paris (An American Glance at Paris). Chicago, Illinois: Terra Foundation for the Arts, 1997. Text p. 94; ill. p. 92 (color).

Ormond, Richard and Elaine Kilmurray. John Singer Sargent: The Early Portraits; Complete Paintings. Vol. 1. New Haven, Connecticut and London, England: Yale University Press, 1998. Text p. 34.

Cartwright, Derrick R. The City and the Country: American Perspectives, 1870–1920. (exh. cat., Musée d'Art Américain Giverny). Chicago, Illinois: Terra Foundation for the Arts, 1999. Text pp. 16, 26 (checklist); fig. 11, p. 16 (black & white).

Cartwright, Derrick R. Ville et campagne: les artistes américains, 1870–1920. (exh. cat., Musée d'Art Américain Giverny). Chicago, Illinois: Terra Foundation for the Arts, 1999. Text pp. 16, 26 (checklist); fig. 11, p. 16 (black & white).

Cartwright, Derrick R. The Extraordinary and the Everyday: American Perspectives, 1820–1920. (exh. cat., Musée d'Art Américain Giverny). Chicago, Illinois: Terra Foundation for the Arts, 2001. Text p. 24 (checklist); ill. p. 36 (color).

Cartwright, Derrick R. L'Héroïque et le quotidian: les artistes américains, 1820–1920. (exh. cat., Musée d'Art Américain Giverny). Chicago, Illinois: Terra Foundation for the Arts, 2001. Text p. 24 (checklist); ill. p. 36 (color).

Bourguignon, Katherine M. and Elizabeth Kennedy. An American Point of View: The Daniel J. Terra Collection. Chicago, Illinois: Terra Foundation for the Arts, 2002. Text pp. 96, 204; ill. pp. 14 (color), 97 (color), 204 (black & white).

Bourguignon, Katherine M. and Elizabeth Kennedy. Un regard transatlantique. La collection d'art américain de Daniel J. Terra. Chicago, Illinois: Terra Foundation for the Arts, 2002. Text pp. 96, 204; ill. pp. 14 (color), 97 (color), 204 (black & white).

Davidson, Susan, ed. Art in America: 300 Years of Innovation. (exh. cat., National Museum of China, Beijing; Shanghai Museum). New York, NY: Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation; Chicago, IL: Terra Foundation for American Art, 2007. (Chinese and English version; citing English version). Ill. p. 167 (color).

Art In America: 300 years of Innovation. Hong Kong: Wen Wei Publishing Co. Ltd, 2007. Text pp. 77-78 (in Chinese).

Davidson, Susan, ed. Art in America: 300 Years of Innovation. (exh. cat., The Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow, Russia). New York, NY: Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation; Chicago, IL: Terra Foundation for American Art, 2007. (Russian version). Ill. p. 88 (color).

Davidson, Susan, ed. Art in the USA: 300 años de innovación. (exh. cat., Guggenheim Museum Bilbao). New York, NY: Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation; Chicago, IL: Terra Foundation for American Art, 2007. (Spanish version). Ill. p. 120 (color).

Ormand, Richard, et al. John Singer Sargent: Figures and Landscapes, 1874-1882; Complete Paintings: Volume IV. New Haven; London: Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art by Yale University Press, 2006. Text pp. 194-95, 403; Ill. p. 195 (color as "A Young Girl Seeking Alms").

Hills, Patricia and Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz. John Singer Sargent: Portraits in Praise of Women. (exh. cat. Fenimore Museum of Art, Cooperstown, New York). Cooperstown, New York: Fenimore Art Museum, 2010. Text, p. 38; ill. p. 8 (color) (detail), p. 38 (color)(detail), fig. 25, p. 39(color).

Art Across America. (exh. cat., National Museum of Korea, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Terra Foundation for American Art). Seoul, South Korea: National Museum of Korea, 2013. (English and Korean versions). Text pp. 38, 211; ill. fig. 33, p. 38 (color), p. 210 (color).

Bourguignon, Katherine M. American Impressionism: A New Vision 1880-1900. (exh. cat., Musée des Impressionnismes Giverny, National Galleries of Scotland, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza). Giverny, France: Musée des Impressionnismes Giverny, 2014. (English, French and Spanish versions). Ill. p. 67 (color).

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