Dr. Samuel-Jean Pozzi by John Singer Sargent - 1881 - 202.9 x 102.2 cm Rijksmuseum Dr. Samuel-Jean Pozzi by John Singer Sargent - 1881 - 202.9 x 102.2 cm Rijksmuseum

Dr. Samuel-Jean Pozzi

oil on canvas • 202.9 x 102.2 cm
  • John Singer Sargent - January 12, 1856 - April 14, 1925 John Singer Sargent 1881

From March 8 to June 3, 2018, The Rijksmuseum presents a magnificent exhibition, High Society, covering four centuries of glamour in portrait art by the great masters of the history of art, including Cranach, Veronese, Velázquez, Reynolds, Gainsborough, Sargent, Munch, and Manet. You can read more about this great show here. If you can't visit Amsterdam, however, we have something special for you—we will feature a couple of great portraits from the exhibition in DailyArt. Like today!

Samuel-Jean Pozzi was born in Bergerac, in southwest France, to a family of Italian/Swiss descent. He began practising medicine in 1871 and was the author of more than 400 often controversial medical publications, including one of the first comprehensive gynaecological textbooks. He served as a volunteer medic in the Franco-Prussian War and as a military surgeon in the First World War. Pozzi was also surgeon to the Parisian beau monde and befriended many of its luminaries, such as Marcel Proust (1871–1922), whose brother Robert (1873–1935) was his assistant.

Incredibly vain, Pozzi was famous for flirting with and seducing his female patients. This perhaps explains Sargent’s sensual and intimate portrayal of the doctor in his flaming red bathrobe and embroidered satin slippers, and why the artist later described his model as “the man in the red gown (not always).” It is especially Pozzi’s elegant, elongated fingers in Sargent’s portrait that have led some scholars to speculate that the artist himself had sexual longings for his handsome sitter. Pozzi was shot dead in his drawing room in Paris in 1918 by a former patient whose impotency he could not remedy.

This work is on loan to The Rijksmuseum from the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles.