The Bugler

Bugler Newsletter

Art Imitates Life

John Singer Sargent is one of the best known American painters. His most famous work was considered scandalous when it was exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1884. His painting of a young socialite, Virginie Gautreau, was exhibited as an anonymous person, Madame X. The full-length painting was considered too erotic for the times and Sargent decided that a move to London would be better for his career. Madame X stayed in Sargent's home until Madame Gautreau died, at which time it was sold to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Visit to see the picture.

While not many of us can imagine having our portraits painted, in the late 1800s and early 1900s this was considered necessary by many. In England, Sargent had been asked to paint members of the Vickers family. The Vickers family was one of the largest armaments companies in the world and its machine gun was the machine gun used by the British army from 1912 until the 1960s.

Although his main income was from portraiture, Sargent was selected in 1890 to complete a mural decoration at the Boston Public Library. The mural was to be on the third floor of the library where the city kept its "shrine of letters, the library's special collections." Here Sargent would paint his Triumph of Religion. Sally Promey has written an interesting piece on his work at the library, and describes how in the entry hall to the library's most esteemed volumes, Sargent would paint his Triumph of Religion. Promey states that, "Given its public context, the subject Sargent selected may initially seem odd or even inappropriate. In its own time, however, Sargent's approach to religion was quintessentially modern, democratic and American. Religion's triumph, according to Sargent, was precisely the privacy of modern belief" and "he grounded his mural cycle in an ideal fundamental to American religious liberty: the conviction that religion is an interior matter, to be determined solely and freely by the individual." Promey goes on to say that "consistent with its location in a public library, Sargent's mural cycle represented the study of religion rather than religion's practice. The artist deliberately ordered the room and its decoration to create an educational space, not a devotional one."

Sargent worked on his mural for many years, while doing portraits as well. Then the Great War intruded on him as it did the rest of the world. Sargent spent most of his time during the war in America but in 1918 he was commissioned to paint a large painting to symbolize the cooperation between British and American forces during the war.

Gassed by John Singer Sargent. Public domain.

Sargent went to France with Henry Tonks, who was a noted British doctor, teacher and painter. One day Sargent visited a casualty station at Le Bac-de-Sud and he witnessed an orderly leading a group of soldiers that had been blinded by mustard gas. Mustard gas, or more correctly Sulphur mustards, is a chemical agent that causes severe burning of the skin, eyes and respiratory tract. It can be absorbed into the body through inhalation, ingestion or coming into contact with the eyes and skin. Mustard gas was used by the Germans to attack the British and the Canadians during World War I. Sargent used this scene of the soldiers as the subject for an allegorical frieze depicting a line of young men with their eyes bandaged. The painting was named Gassed and soon became one of the most memorably haunting images of the war. The painting measures 7-1/2 by 20 feet and the soldiers are nearly life-sized. The painting was finished in 1919 and voted picture of the year by the Royal Academy of Arts. He also painted The Interior of a Hospital Tent. Both of these paintings are at the Imperial War Museum in Great Britain.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Thank you to everyone who participated in our Think Pink campaign for Breast Cancer Awareness. Several schools held fundraisers for Breast Cancer research and awarded their cadets a pink cord for their participation. Other schools and first responders wore the pink to show their support. Glendale made a donation of $1200 to the Susan G. Komen Foundation in recognition of our Think Pink Campaign.

This year we increased our inventory to meet your demand. The demand continues to be tremendous so don't be disappointed next year. We keep a list of interested organizations and we will contact you in the spring before school breaks for the summer to see if you want to order for delivery in September. Give us a call or email if you want to add your school or organization to our list!

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