The Sargent Lecture Series: New Interpretations of Sargent’s Murals at Boston Public Library

John Singer Sargent’s mural cycle at the Central Library in Copley Square, entitled Triumph of Religion, spanned twenty-nine years of the prolific artist’s career between 1890 and 1919. A century after a public controversy around Sargent’s 1919 installation reached a peak in 1922, Boston Public Library gathered a group of conservators, historians, curators, and authors in May 2022 to revisit this significant project in Sargent’s life and to offer new interpretations of the murals. The talks make connections across local and international collections and resources to promote the further study and discussion of Sargent’s library works.

More images of Sargent's mural panels at Boston Public Library are available at Digital Commonwealth.

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Available recordings of the sessions can be accessed by clicking the YouTube links below.

New Interpretations of Sargent’s Masterwork at Boston Public Library

May 9, 2022
Meghan Weeks

Join BPL’s Curator of Interpretation for a virtual exploration of John Singer Sargent’s Triumph of Religion mural cycle at the Boston Public Library. This introductory lecture will examine the evolution of the project over three decades between 1890 and 1919, and offer fresh insights into the visual study of these masterful murals on public display.

Reflections on the Restoration of John Sargent's Murals at the Boston Public Library

May 10, 2022
Gianfranco Pocobene and Kate Smith

In 2003-2004, the Straus Center for Conservation undertook the comprehensive conservation and restoration of the Sargent murals which also included in depth technical analysis of the artist's painting techniques. This talk will focus on some of the more complex treatment issues that conservators faced during the fifteen-month project.

Sourcing the Madonna of Sorrows: Painting, Sculpture and Sargent’s Spanish Photographs

May 18, 2022
Chloe Sharpe introduced by Richard Ormond

Sargent’s Madonna of Sorrows, installed in 1916, was the culmination of over twenty years of research into Spanish religious iconography for the Boston Library murals. The painter’s fascination with the spiritual power and rich materiality of Spanish art led him to amass a significant collection of photographs of sculptures, which has only recently been rediscovered in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. The lecture explores the significance of these and other sources for interpreting the murals’ meanings.

Sargent Keeping Faith: Church and Synagogue 1919

May 23, 2022
Daniel Williman and Karen Corsano

Scholars Daniel Williman and Karen Corsano, authors of John Singer Sargent and His Muse: Painting Love and Loss, explore the artist's 1919 installation of the Church and Synagogue panels at Boston Public Library as well as their memorialization of World War I and Sargent's personal losses in this conflict.

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