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The Archers, John Singer Sargent (1856-1925)
Oil on canvas, English School, 1915. John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) was born in Italy to American parents. He studied at the Florence Academy and in 1874 began studies in Paris, showing there at the Salon from 1878. The following year he visited Spain where he was greatly taken with the work of Velasquez. In 1886 he settled in London where he soon gained a reputation as a fashionable society painter and it was in this capacity that he amassed enough of a personal fortune to concentrate on subjects of his own choosing. During the early 1890s Sargent was commissioned to paint a vast series of murals for the ceiling of the Boston Public Library and Museum in America. It would appear that 'The Archers' was produced as a precursor to that commission as several of the figures in the mural bear a striking resemblance to those in the painting. The Royal Cornwall Museum is also lucky enough to own the preparatory sketches for the painting. Sargent showed work regularly at the Royal Academy throughout the 1890s, becoming an Academician in 1897. He was an official war artist during the First World War, producing many memorable works.