We'll begin our program at the Boston Public Library where Sargent painted a series of murals. Though not considered among his top works, the murals mark Sargent's first encounter with Boston and Bostonian society, a relationship that would later prove extremely influential to his career. While viewing and discussing the murals we'll look into Sargent's biography and trace his early years and travels throughout Europe.
We'll move from here to the Museum of Fine Arts or MFA, one of the country's most important art museums and a short trolley ride away. We'll focus our attention on the American art galleries and works from the late 19th-century, including early Impressionists, in order to place Sargent within a historical, aesthetic, and social context. The MFA holds some of the most important works by Sargent, including an in-situ rotunda of his murals, and so we'll dwell here awhile (notwithstanding any loans of his work that may have been made to other museums) before moving on.
With Europe—in particular Venice—on our mind, we'll move from here to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum across the street. Gardner was a prominent force in American art and art collecting at the end of the 19th century, and through her fascination for Venice (the museum is a recreation of a Venice palazzo) she came into contact with Sargent at the peak of his career, drawing him back to Boston for a time to consult with her on acquisitions and, of course, paint portraits of her and her friends. Sargent's portrait of Gardiner, one of his most important works, still hangs in the Museum where, like all the artworks here, it was originally intended. While in the Gardiner, one of Boston's best collections of European painting and decorative art, we'll talk about the influence of Renaissance Italian and 18th- and 19th-century French painting on Sargent.
We'll wrap our walk here, leaving guests free to explore the rest of the Gardener Museum on their own (there's a lovely cafe here) or to return to the MFA across the street with their ticket still valid. Either way, we'll conclude with a vivid portrait of Sargent as an artist, and his artistic influence on both sides of the Atlantic.