The day before yesterday I spent most of the day in San Francisco. After taking a walk on Ocean Beach and having a grotesque and virtually inedible bowl of oatmeal at a little café down by the water (the coffee was fine; the oatmeal looked and tasted like it had been made the week before and then freshly microwaved--don't people know what good oatmeal should taste like?), I drove over to see the De Young Museum for the first time in a year or so. I mostly saw the regular collection, choosing not to spend the extra money to see the JeanPaul Gaulthier exhibit now going on. It was funny (and a pleasure), though, to see that many people in the museum seemed to be rather better dressed than usual.
Painting faces, Sargent captures the flesh but also the personality. I have no doubt that Caroline de Bassano looked just as Sargent has painted her (not very flatteringly--with her very large eyes, receding chin, and thin upper lip)--but he's also captured her personality--or so it seems. She looks ambitious and superficially confident, but somehow extremely insecure at the same time. She seems deeply in need of something. A pleasure to see this painting again.