John Singer Sargent

As expected, one of the highlights of the trip was seeing paintings of John Singer Sargent up close and personal. This trip the one which struck me was this portrait of a woman named Mrs. Hugh Hammersley, whoever that is. But what a painting. It is huge. Take a look at the detail. Then, when you get a distance from the painting, it all falls together and the genius of the artist becomes mind-bogglingly apparent. To page through over 1,000 of Sargent's paintings, check out this online gallery.

Here is Mrs. Hemmersley as she hangs in the museum. To the viewer's left, Mrs. Hemmersley's right, is the infamous Madame X, a painting which I think is inferior to Mrs. Hemmersley, but which is famous for the furor it caused when it was unveiled in Paris in the 1880s. It nearly ruined Sargent's career.