SARGENT – John Singer Sargent – famed portraitist, nearing end of life, 60s
TOM – Thomas Eugene McKeller – model, hotel bellhop, contortionist, African American, Boston’s Apollo 20s 30s
WILL – Anton Wilhelm Kemp – model, art student, former assistant to Sargent, German accent, composite of several models to Sargent including Anton Kamp, Harry Bloom, Antonio Corsi, Nicola d’Iverno, 20s 30s
BELLE – Mrs. Isabella Stewart Gardner, post stroke in a wheelchair, founder Gardner Art Museum, 60s
SYNOPSIS: John Singer Sargent (1856 – 1925), the most successful portrait painter
of his era, lays bare his thorny relationships with models Thomas
McKeller, Wilhelm Kamp & patroness Isabella Stewart Gardner while
desperately seeking non-portraiture as his legacy.
On a Sunday in June 1921, a poststroke, wheelchair bound Isabella
Gardner appears at Sargent’s studio with chauffeur, a former model &
assistant of Sargent, in tow asking for Sargent to give her the many
sketches he has promised her or reproduce them while she watches. She
also seeks to see the painting of McKeller never shown to any but
Sargent’s inner circle. Will the heat of the day and of the moment
provide a flow of emotional fireworks? Will Isabella finally see “Thomas
McKeller” & receive her sketches? Will Tom McKeller make a stand?
Will “the chauffeur”, Will, redeem himself? And will Old Master Sargent
find the respect he seeks, creating civic commissions and ridding
himself forever of portraiture?
McKeller became Sargent’s most “useful” life drawing model, standing in
for men, women, the politically powerful, all forms of gods, goddesses
and white people. The portrait of a totally uncovered Thomas McKeller,
was only displayed “discretely & infrequently” to Sargent’s closest
friends, never publicly during Sargent’s lifetime. It was “unseen” for
nearly 100 years finally exhibited in 2020 at Boston’s Gardner Museum.
Combining spoken text, life drawing, immersive imagery, and historical
fact & fiction, HIDDEN invites you, to meet the artist, his
patroness and his most “useful” models.
https://vimeo.com/manage/videos/826764292 = BOSTON APOLLO Vimeo Promo