James Whistler & John Singer Sargent

Most major American artists have studied in Europe, & many chose to remain abroad. Indeed, during the late 19th century, several of the world’s most influential painters were American expatriates.

James McNeill Whistler led the aesthetic movement that cultivated color harmonies & simplified shapes as “art for art’s sake.” When a boy, he took drawing lessons in St. Petersburg, Russia, & then learned print techniques while making government maps in Washington, D.C. Later in London, Paris, & Venice, Whistler endlessly refined & adjusted his prints & paintings, often taking years to complete his abstracted stylizations.

John Singer Sargent, hailed on both sides of the Atlantic as a society portraitist, was educated in Florence, Rome, & Nice by his wealthy parents. His avant-garde style, founded on the bravura brushwork of the seventeenth-century old masters Frans Hals & Diego Velázquez, gained popular acclaim. Making a sensational debut in Paris in his early twenties, Sargent became famous for his rapid execution of oils & watercolors.