Trinity House Paintings will present an exhibition of pictures by master portrait artists John Singer Sargent (1856 – 1925) and Paul César Helleu (1859-1927) at their gallery in Broadway, UK, 8 - 15 June 2012. The show will then travel to their Mayfair gallery at 50 Maddox Street, London W1 from 18 - 22 June, and latterly will be on their stand at the Masterpiece London fair, 28 June – 4 July. The exhibition provides an excellent opportunity to view the work of these two artists and great friends alongside each other.
Sargent was the most celebrated portrait painter of the Edwardian age. In 1885, Sargent caused a scandal when he painted Madame X, a sensual portrait of Mme Gautreau, a noted society beauty. He fled Paris and over the next five years he used his new found freedom and flamboyant social network to his advantage. This period of development coincided with his time spent in Broadway, a quiet Cotswold village that had been ‘discovered’ and ‘colonised’ by various artists as well as wealthy artistic Americans.
He exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1887, with the Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose. This large piece painted on site of two young girls lighting lanterns in an English garden was produced during his time in Broadway, on the same High Street as Trinity House’s flagship gallery. The painting was immediately purchased by the Tate Gallery, where it is still exhibited today. A highlight of the exhibition at Trinity House Paintings is Marionettes painted in 1903. The picture records a backstage performance of Sicilian rod puppets, with two knights in battle, watched by a distressed female in black. Marionettes is the only documented picture of a marionette theatre by Sargent, and it was painted in the Philadelphia slums, during the artist’s visit to the city in May 1903. Philadelphia had and still has a large Italian community, including many Sicilians, who brought their native traditions with them, including their marionette theatres. Also of interest by Sargent is an impressive oil on canvas study featuring Pomegranates, Majorca in dappled sunlight painted in 1908.
Paul César Helleu (1859 - 1927) worked as a painter and an engraver in France at the turn of the century. He gained renown for his portraits of society ladies on commission. He studied at the École Nationale des Beaux-Arts where he befriended fellow student John Singer Sargent. The Second Impressionist Exhibition of 1876 profoundly influenced Helleu and Sargent. Included in the exhibition is a signed pastel of Jean Toussaint otherwise known as ‘the Panther’ and the Director of Cartier Jewellery from 1933. Louis Cartier gave Toussaint this evocative nickname as every new design had first to be submitted to her exacting judgment. The animal is still used in Cartier designs to this day. Also of interest is a charming charcoal and pastel head study, Le Parfum featuring Madame Claringy, Helleu’s sister-in-law as well as the artist’s daughter, Ellen, aged one year.