Breathless – Seeing Rosina Ferrara for the First Time

I suppose most people know of John Singer Sargent for his highly realistic and incredibly rich-looking portraits of artistocrats which I have come across and admired over the years – but then, yesterday I was stopped in my tracks by this unfinished head study of an Italian girl from Capri – Rosina Ferrara.

Portrait of Rosina Ferrara by John Singer Sargent
Portrait of Rosina Ferrara by John Singer Sargent

It just took my breath away.

The starkness of the head against a plain white ground appeals to me as I dislike fussy backgrounds.

The subtleties of the colouring and textures are sublime and so softly done you stop breathing as you examine them.

The wistful and rustic touch of the flower petals in her loosely fixed hair are the perfect foil to the fineness of her skin and her definite features… I would love to paint a portrait like this.

I love it and am going to get a print of it even though I vowed I would only have originals in my house. Seeing as I am not likely to afford an original John Singer Sargent anytime soon I will have to break my vow – but to have this image where I can see it every day will be so worth it.

Today I am going to research this image further and find out the exact size of the original painting which I believe is an oil.

Update – John Singer Sargent (1856-1925)
Rosina Ferrara, Head of a Capri Girl, 1878
Oil on cardboard
Signed, inscribed, and dated by the artist at lower right, To my friend Hyde / souvenir of / John S. Sargent / Capri 1878
12 7/8 x 9 7/8 in.

Do you have a favourite portrait? Who is it of and by and why do you love it?

Comments welcome below!

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