Class Year

2014

Date

4-14-2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

Department or Program

Art & Art History

First Advisor

Miguel de Baca

Second Advisor

Ann M. Roberts

Third Advisor

Tracy McCabe

Abstract

Although John Singer Sargent has largely been considered the greatest portraitist of the Edwardian age, more recent criticism disparages Sargent's oeuvre for its attention to aesthetics and obsession with the socially elite. Many label him and his work as superficial, lacking in psychological insight. However, upon closer investigation of his large output, we can ascertain greater psychological meaning concerning his sexual identity. While it has been widely postulated that Sargent was most likely homosexual, a closer look at his work reveals a much more complicated sexuality. It is the aim of this thesis, by means of applying a queer art-historical reading to many of his paintings, to assert that Sargent’s portraits were an enactment of a preoccupation with transvestism. In analyzing Sargent’s artwork in this way, we gain a better understanding of the artist’s psychological disposition, how this affected his large output, and deeper insight into the complexity of non-normative masculinities at the end of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

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