National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Nonchaloir (Repose) John Singer Sargent (artist)
American, 1856 - 1925
Nonchaloir (Repose), 1911
oil on canvas
overall: 63.8 x 76.2 cm (25 1/8 x 30 in.) framed: 86.7 x 99.4 x 10.2 cm (34 1/8 x 39 1/8 x 4 in.)
Gift of Curt H. Reisinger
1948.16.1
On View
From the Tour: Whistler, Sargent, and Tanner — Americans Abroad in the Late 1800s
Object 4 of 7

Exasperated by the demands of his sitters, Sargent proclaimed portraiture to be “a pimp’s profession” and by 1907 resolved never to accept another portrait commission. During his later years, the artist devoted himself to creating decorative murals for public buildings and to painting watercolors and small canvases purely for pleasure.

In 1911 Sargent vacationed with his sister’s family in Switzerland, where he painted Nonchaloir (“nonchalance”). A casual character study instead of a formal portrait, it depicts Sargent’s niece Rose-Marie Ormond Michel, whom he nicknamed “Intertwingle” because of her agile, intertwined poses. Influenced by the “art for art’s sake” movement, the painter unified the color scheme with the amber light of a lazy afternoon. The straight lines of the posh furnishings in the Swiss hotel accentuate the swift brushstrokes used to delineate his niece’s fingers, hair, cashmere shawl, and satin skirt.

Late in life, Sargent also returned to landscapes, working almost exclusively outdoors. He spent the autumn of 1908 relaxing on the Spanish island of Majorca. Valdemosa, Majorca: Thistles and Herbage on a Hillside is a tour de force of Sargent’s brushwork. Against the sandy soil, the sunny highlights that gleam from roots and twigs create abstract networks of white paint.

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