But Sargent was JUST as impressed by Spanish art, particularly that of Velasquez, and in Holland he found Franz Hals' work quite impressive. He seems to have been a fan of Edouard Manet as well. Thus, in describing Sargent's style, the term "eclectic" comes to mind. Actually, his style is so distinctive one might be tempted to coin the term Sargentism. His compositions were daring. Critics were often disturbed by his massive, seemingly "empty" sections of canvas and often deeply recessive shadows. His painting, The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit dating from 1882 is nothing if not revolutionary in the realm of portrait composition.
In 1884 he was commissioned to paint a portrait of one of Paris' greatest beauties, Madame Gautreau. The painting, is the ultimate in late-nineteenth-century elegance, the profile so striking it ranks with that of Nefertiti. But the bare shoulders and incredible, plunging neckline of the solid black evening gown were too much for even the French. When it was exhibited at the Salon, not only was Paris society shocked, but so were Judith Gautreau and her husband. Thus the portrait became known simply as Madame X. It was so unfavorably received that Sargent thought it best to moved to London.