1879. Oil on canvas. Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute at Williamstown, MA, USA. Read Note.
Carolus-Duran, artistic name of Charles-Emile-Auguste Durand (1838-1917) French painter, born in Lille. He was strongly influenced by Velasquez and the Spanish school. He was the teacher of Sargent. “From a distance Carolus-Duran appeared a glamorous figure; close-up he was engaging; his character was highly magnetic. He had charm. He had warmth. And above all, he was a superb but eccentric teacher, leaning unfortunately less on rudimentary preparation than on mere repetition of his own original version of how best to paint. But his students were drawn to him precisely for his originality, and they adored him. It was probably this extra bonus of affection that helped to produce so many immediately recognizable echoes of his painting on both sides of the Atlantic for several decades. Carolus’ success was meteoric and bolted straight across the face of hallowed academic tradition. He was controversial, and quickly became the darling of the youger generation. He was witheringly talented, but somehow his visual language got arrested; he never seemed to move on from his brilliant achievements in the late 1860s and early 1870s. And in truth he did not look much like a very superior conjuror.” (John Singer Sargent. His Portrait. by Stanley Olson. Macmillan London Ltd. 1986. p 33). Sargent finished the portrait of his teacher in 1879 and sent it to the Salon. The portrait was favorably met by critics