'A Very Intelligent Little Frenchman'

The Daily Pic: John Singer Sargent paints his Parisian friend.

12.11.12 11:17 PM ET

“Of course Delafosse is a decadent in the matter of neck-ties – but he is a very intelligent little Frenchman,” wrote John Singer Sargent about Léon Delafosse, the French pianist who sat for this portrait in around 1896. I saw it on a visit to the Seattle Art Museum earlier this autumn. It’s a lovely thing (Delafosse was so pretty he was known as “The Angel”) but I wonder why I like slick crowd-pleasers in older art, but can’t stand them in the art of our times? How can I enjoy Sargent so much, when I hold Cezanne up as the model artist of his era?

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