Sargent’s Bournemouth RLS paintings on show

Two works by John Singer Sargent painted in Bournemouth are to be included in a major exhibition next year at the National Portrait Gallery.

The bearded Sargent visited Robert Louis Stevenson’s Westbourne house at least twice.

He painted the author walking about his drawing room whilst his wife sits in a chair. In a second portrait he is sitting in a chair.

The painting depicting Stevenson on his feet is often reproduced and is being lent to the London exhibition by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

Sargent’s very first painting done at the house in 1884 is lost. He returned in 1885 and 1887 for Stevenson to sit for the two now to be exhibited.

The main RLS portrait, a favourite of NPG director Sandy Nairne, was the starting point of the show says curator Richard Ormond who has been working on the exhibition for five years.

Also in the exhibition will be a portrait of Sargent’s fellow American Henry James who knew Bournemouth and marvelled at the sea view even if he did not like the new houses.

Due to be lent by Glasgow Museums is the portrait of Mrs George Batten who was the lover of Bournemouth-born Radclyffe Hall.

Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends is at the National Portrait Gallery from 12 February to 25 May 2015; admission £14.50 (conc £13).

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