John Singer Sargent (1856 – 1925), American expatriate artist and the “leading portrait painter of his generation”, painted the above portrait of two little girls lighting paper lanterns in the evening light in 1885. From the beginning of his career as a painter, Sargent’s work was characterized by remarkable technical facility, particularly in his ability to draw with a brush. His commissioned works were consistent with the grand manner of portraiture, while his informal studies and landscape paintings displayed a familiarity with Impressionism, they say.
The two subjects of the painting are the daughters of the illustrator Frederick Barnard, Dolly on the left, 11 years old at the time, and Polly on the right, seven years old. They were chosen for their light hair, it seems.
We like this painting for its wonderful atmosphere. Wouldn’t you want to be there with the two little ladies, lighting lanterns and enjoying the summer evening? We surely would. You can practically smell the roses and lilies!