Boston's Apollo Thomas McKeller and John Singer Sargent Nathaniel Silver, Trevor Fairbrother, Paul Fisher, Nikki A Greene, Erica E. Hirshler, Lorraine O'Grady, Casey Riley, Colm Tóibín

Publication date:
14 Jan 2020
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
256 pages: 292 x 216mm
115 color illus.
Sales territories:

The story of the extraordinary collaboration behind one of John Singer Sargent’s renowned late masterpieces

In 1916, John Singer Sargent (1856–1925) met Thomas Eugene McKeller (1890–1962), a young African American elevator attendant, at Boston’s Hotel Vendome. McKeller became the principal model for Sargent’s murals in the new wing of the city’s Museum of Fine Arts, among the painter’s most ambitious works. Sargent’s nude studies and sketches from this project attest to a close collaboration between the two men that unfolded over nearly ten years. Featuring drawings given by Sargent to Isabella Stewart Gardner and published in full for the first time, a portrait of McKeller, and archival materials reconstructing his life and relationship with Sargent, this book opens new avenues into artist-model relationships and transforms our understanding of Sargent’s iconic American paintings. Essays offer the first biography of McKeller and a window onto African American life in early-20th-century Boston. They also address the artist’s sexuality, his models, and questions of race and identity.

Nathaniel Silver is William and Lia Poorvu Curator of the Collection at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston
(February 13–October 12, 2020)

“an excellent book.”—Holland Cotter, New York Times

"[A] handsome and well-illustrated catalog"—Michael Henry Adams, The Guardian