John Singer Sargent’s portrait of Madame Errazuriz (Eugenia Huici Arguedas de Errázuriz) was painted around 1880-82. The Chilean patron of modernism and influential style leader in Paris during the late 19th and early 20th centuries posed for Sargent at the height of her social standing. The portrait depicts Madame Errazuriz in a black dress, which earned her the nickname “The Lady in Black.”
Sargent’s intention behind painting Madame Errazuriz was to establish his reputation, as she was an important figure in European society. Despite succeeding in doing so, he became more famous for his scandalous Portrait of Madame X, which depicted a young socialite named Virginie Amélie Avegno Gautreau with a revealing dress strap falling off her shoulder when it debuted in Paris in 1884.
Madame Errazuriz’s portrait highlights Sargent’s mastery with paint; he achieved seamless blending between light and dark tones that gave the subject depth while capturing her prominent position as an influencer. Her direct gaze at the viewer creates a sense of intimacy between subject and observer, inviting us to draw near and study her features carefully.
Additional Information: John Singer Sargent is considered one of the greatest American painters known for his oil portraits depicting aristocrats from Europe and North America from the late 1800s through early 1900s period. His works are renowned for their artistic brilliance, influenced largely by Impressionism with quick brushstrokes to capture emotion, atmosphere, movement or momentary appearance *in life*. Apart from making portraits he also made landscapes using broad brushstrokes which showed foliage or water bodies like rivers or seas amidst natural backgrounds.