Robert Louis Stevenson, 1887, John Singer Sargent (American, 1856–1925), oil on canvas
A virtuoso among Edwardian artists, Sargent achieved international success as a painter of grand but provocative, graceful while casual portraits. Among the artist’s most innovative and psychologically insightful works, this somberly painted depiction of Stevenson, Scottish author of Treasure Island and other popular books, is seemingly a portrait without artifice. Sargent portrayed his friend informally and kept the bright colors of the wicker chair and busy texture of the rug away from his focal point to create a serene anchor in the composition. Stevenson holds a glowing cigarette in his brightly lit, expressive fingers that masterfully emphasize his intensity and intellect.