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A paradoxical portrait


Filed under: BiographyNon-fiction

Claire Harman on John Singer Sargent's painting of Robert Louis Stevenson.

When John Singer Sargent painted Robert Louis Stevenson in 1885, his unconventional composition made Stevenson think of ‘a caged maniac’. Stevenson’s biographer Claire Harman talks about the circumstances under which the painting was made, the friendships it reflected and its capturing of a moment in Stevenson’s life just before his own notable composition of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

Claire Harman is a well-known critic and reviewer and the award-winning biographer of Sylvia Townsend Warner, Fanny Burney and Robert Louis Stevenson. Her book on Jane Austen, Jane’s Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World, appeared in 2009 and her new biography of Charlotte Brontë will be published in 2015.

We are grateful to the National Portrait Gallery, our partner for this event.

Part of the programme of events complementing Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends.

Recorded on: February 19, 2015
Recorded at: National Portrait Gallery