For our first installment of our new blog series, "Under the Influence," I thought I would start with one of the modern cornerstones in the history of portrait art. John Singer Sargent is a personal hero of William's, and, though his name is known by many, his work is always worth a revisit! Inspired at a young age by Sargent's graceful and poignant portraits, William has sought throughout his career to explore the human subject like Sargent before him: in a grand manner style with a contemporary eye. Born in Florence in 1856 to American parents, Sargent then studied in Italy, Germany, and Paris. He rose to public awareness in 1884, when his now famous portrait "Madame X" of Madame Gautreau debuted at The Paris Salon. The debut of that portrait was a turning point in Sargent's career, as it spurred him to move to England, where he quickly established himself as that country's preeminent portrait painter. Ultimately, Sargent went on to create about 900 oil paintings, 2,000 watercolours, and countless scetches and charcoal drawings. Embracing a realism that was rare for the time in which he worked, Sargent's portraits were sought universally by those of fame and fortune. In addition to a simple likeness, Sargent was uniquely able to capture the emotional range of his subjects. It is this lens on the humanity of his sitters that makes Sargent's work still gripping today. Take a look at some of his paintings here and let us know which is your favorite! You can also find more of Sargent's works on our Pinterest!