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Boston's Apollo: Thomas McKeller and John Singer Sargent

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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.


  • Publisher :  The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (February 18, 2020) 
  • Language :  English 
  • Hardcover :  256 pages