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By the early 1890s Sargent’s dazzlingly fluid style was taking London by storm. This portrait of his friend, Miss Flora Priestley, is typical of the vitality and glamour that Sargent brought to portraiture, as well as his ability to record figures with a few vigorous brush strokes. Miss Priestley exemplifies the dark, striking physical type that appeared in Sargent’s work throughout his career. The stark contrast of her black hair with the whiteness of her face is accentuated by the muddy green of the dress and background. Equally dramatic is the scarlet red of her lips matched by the flowers at her chest.

August 2004