Sight-Size History

Articles About the History of Sight-Size

The history of Sight-Size began the first time an artist decided to place their artwork visually next to their subject. That placement allowed them to work one-to-one. This collection of articles relate to the history of Sight-Size.

John Singer Sargent

In 1903 Frederick Fiske Warren commissioned Sargent to paint a group portrait of his wife and daughter. The sittings took place in a room of Isabella Stewart Gardner’s Fenway Court. Midway through the painting a photographer was brought in to document the process. Notice the placement of the canvas, the models and Sargent himself.


Henrietta Rae

Henrietta Rae’s interest in art began at an early age. After two years of drudgery at the Queen Square School, she began studying art in the Antique Galleries of the British Museum. She was only 15 at the time.


Sir Henry Raeburn

One early proponent of Sight-Size was Scottish painter Sir Henry Raeburn. The most extensive biography on Raeburn is Edward Pinnington’s, Sir Henry Raeburn, R.A. Written in 1904, it is still the most often quoted when it comes to writing about Raeburn’s painting technique.


Lord Leighton

Sickert’s instructions for how to go about drawing the figure, attributed to Lord Leighton, are textbook Sight-Size. True enough, putting your easel eighteen feet away from the model and then standing an arm’s length away from it, results a seven to ten inch figure.


Gilbert Stuart

Gilbert Stuart was one of America’s great portrait painters. This self portrait was done while Stuart was in England, studying with another American ex-patriot painter, Benjamin West.


Sir Gerald Festus Kelly

Sir Gerald Festus Kelly was born in London in 1879. He was educated at Eton College and Trinity Hall, Cambridge. In 1901, Gerald’s father, the Vicar of Camberwell, sent him to France to study painting.


Emma Nessi

Emma Nessi studied privately with Cesare Tallone, at the Brera Academy, around 1906. Not much is known about her, in English anyway, and I’d be grateful to learn of any images of her paintings, or other information.


Philip Alexius de László

Philip Alexius de László was an Hungarian artist, born in 1869. Although he began his career as an historical painter, he is best known for his portraiture of early twentieth-century English and American socialites. He had a bravura style of brushwork which fit well with his contemporaries (and competition), Sargent, Sorolla and Zorn.


Cesare Tallone

Cesare Tallone studied at the Brera Academy in Milan, between 1872 and 1880. He was most well known for his portraits and he had a working friendship with Antonio Mancini.



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