First thing on May 1, 2015 (Friday morning) we had the pleasure of witnessing the first meeting between Mr. Kinstler and Mr. Ormond (who is the grandson of Violet, Sargent's youngest sister). The two men are both passionately obsessed with John Singer Sargent, so the conversation was never dull.
The banter between the two gentlemen was delightful. I loved it when they politely contradicted each other over dates - I believe Mr. Ormond joked, "I won't quibble, but ... " about some small detail or other. I love the expressions used by the British! I think at one point Mr. Ormond referred to himself (as a child) as, "quite a naughty boy" (which I thought was rather funny) and that, as such, he found his grandmother Violet rather fearsome and formidable.
A little known fact about Sargent include that he served as a consultant to museums with regard to buying Old Master's art. He was, along with Henry James, one of two great recorders of the golden age. He said that every portrait should have an element of caricature. He created at least 600 charcoal drawings, which Mr. Ormond is now trying to track down in order to catalogue them for posterity. For a really obscure fact, he sometimes traveled with a stuffed deer!
A few books recommended by Mr. Ormond (in addition to all the amazing, huge volumes produced by Mr. Ormond himself) included those by Evan Charteris (download this one, entitled John Sargent, for FREE here - you are welcome!), John Singer Sargent: A Conversation Piece by Martin Birnbaum (**see excerpt from the book at the end of this post below) and a third book, entitled, Sargent at Broadway: The Impressionist Years, which was co-written by Stanley Olson, Warren Adelson and Mr. Ormond.
|Dawn Whitelaw introduced the two distinguished gentlemen|
Sargent's sister, Emily, was a gifted watercolorist in her own right yet did not exhibit her work. She was modest yet ascerbic, opinionated and intelligent. Emily served as hostess for Sargent, who remained unmarried his entire life.
Sargent was offered both a knighthood and membership in The Royal Academy. He refused both, as at least one of those honors would have entailed giving up his American citizenship.
Mr. Ormond mentioned that Sargent was not malingering, like the rest of his family, who always seemed to be ill with some malady or other. He had the robust strength to travel and participate fully in life. Despite being out and about, with lots of friends, he was apparently a bit of a social disaster. If you were unlucky enough to be seated next to him at dinner, you would have had your work cut out to engage him in much conversation.
Sargent could paint anywhere and anything and find a way to make it interesting. He was a decent man, comfortable with himself and always looking forward. He was cultured, intelligent, private, reserved and diffident. His keen observation resulted in paintings too gorgeous for his own good - he made very difficult paintings look easy.
One thing is for sure - we know where Richard Ormond got his eyebrows! He bears a striking resemblance to John Singer Sargent's father, Mr. Fitzwilliam Sargent.
**Excerpt from A Conversation Piece by Martin Birnbaum:
- “Sargent never surrounded himself with an aura, and violently disliked a note of flattery which he could instantly detect. DeGlehn’s story of a visit to Sargent with Claude Monet bears this out. It seems that the two guests remained all day, lunching and dining with Sargent. Naturally they spent part of their time in their host’s studio, filled at the time with some of the sensational Wertheimer portraits. DeGlehn was amazed that Monet hardly looked at them and he not only resented the Frenchman’s attitude but mentioned the matter to Sargent. “But he hates this sort of painting” declared Sargent, to whom, however, Monet ever remained a great friend. Indeed, Sargent himself enjoyed poking fun even at his best works. “The Idiots of the Mountain” was the way he referred to the exquisite picture known as “The Cashmere Shawl”, all posed for by his beloved niece Rose-Marie Ormond Michel who perished in Paris when the Germans bombed the church of St. Gervais.”
(Excerpt from “John Singer Sargent, A Conversation Piece” By Martin Birnbaum, New York, Wm E. Rudge’s Sons, 1941, 80pp pp40-41 )
I found this quote HERE.