Mme. François Buloz (Christine Blaze)

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Mme. François Buloz (Christine Blaze)

United States, 1879
Oil on canvas
21 9/16 x 18 3/8 in. (54.77 x 46.67 cm)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harry F. Sinclair and Mary D. Keeler Bequest (M.71.70)
Not currently on public view

Curator Notes

Sargent began to receive commissions as a result of the success of his portrait of Carolus-Duran presented at the Paris Salon of 1879....
Sargent began to receive commissions as a result of the success of his portrait of Carolus-Duran presented at the Paris Salon of 1879. The first of the Paris elite to patronize him was the playwright Edouard Pailleron. So pleased was Pailleron with his portrait that he asked Sargent to paint his wife at the country estate of Mme Pailleron’s father, Edmund Buloz, editor of the influential La Revue des deux mondes. In August 1879 Sargent spent six enjoyable weeks at Ronjoux, the Buloz summer home in Savoy, in southeastern France. Before leaving, he painted a portrait of his hostess, Mme Buloz, as a gift for her. Mme Buloz (née Christine Blaze de Bury) later professed to her sister that she did not care for the portrait, "I do not find it flattering enough; it is as I will look in ten years time if God allows me to live that long!" Despite Mme Buloz’s objections, the portrait Sargent created clearly demonstrates his ability to capture a sitter’s character. He presented Mme Buloz, an elderly woman, in a direct, frontal pose. As she quietly looks out at the viewer, her forthright but gentle gaze suggests a perceptive personality. Sargent’s brushwork is spontaneous; with a deft hand and few strokes he sensitively modeled her expressive face. In such portrait sketches Sargent often conveyed greater vitality and freshness than in his more finished, commissioned works. Although Mme Buloz wears black and emerges from a shadowy interior, the portrait is rich, demonstrating that at this early stage Sargent was already a master of the restricted palette that his teacher had extolled.

About The Era

After the centennial of 1876 the foremost place for American artists to show was no longer New York but Paris....
After the centennial of 1876 the foremost place for American artists to show was no longer New York but Paris. By the late nineteenth century the Paris Salon was the most important exhibition space in the Western world. Artists from many nations would submit their best works to its annual exhibition. The honor of being accepted presaged an artist’s future success. Thousands of paintings, sculptures, and works on paper were presented at each Salon; the exhibition halls were so crowded that paintings were hung to the ceiling with sculptures scattered about. To be hung “on the line” (at eye level) meant a work of art ranked among the best in the show. Since a painting might be skied (hung near the ceiling), many artists painted on a large scale to ensure that their work could be seen no matter where it was placed.
Contrary to earlier periods, American painting in the late 1800s was no longer dominated by a single aesthetic. Munich-school paintings—narrative scenes, often based on literature or history and painted in a dark palette—as well as small figure paintings in the realist tradition were popular in both France and the United States. Large portraits represent the academic style that dominated official taste during this era. Bright, sun-drenched scenes by a more progressive group of artists, the impressionists are diametrically opposite in color, mood, and concept to muted tonalist and symbolist works. Whereas the impressionists celebrated contemporary life with all its transformations, the tonalists and symbolists created hazily illuminated, dreamlike imagery.
Sculptures range from academic examples of idealized mythological imagery to expressions of the newer interest in the emotive potential of the human form. Equestrian bronzes by Frederic Remington demonstrate that at the turn of the century there was a continuing enthusiasm for heroic depictions of the West despite the increased internationalism of American taste.


  • About the Era.
  • Fort, Ilene Susan and Michael Quick.  American Art:  a Catalogue of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art Collection.  Los Angeles:  Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1991.
  • Kilmurray, Elaine and Ormond, Richard. John Singer Sargent: Portraits of the 1890s (Complete Paintings: Volume II).  London: Yale University Press, 2002.