John Singer Sargent - El Jaleo, 1882

John Singer Sargent (Florence, 1856 - 1925, London)

El Jaleo, 1882

Oil on canvas, 232 x 348 cm (91 5/16 x 137 in.)


Object details

Accession number



Purchased by the Schaus Gallery, New York from the Paris Salon of 1882 for 10,000 francs.
Purchased by T. Jefferson Coolidge (1831–1920), American businessman and diplomat, from the Schaus Gallery, 1882.
Gift from Coolidge to Isabella Stewart Gardner, 1914.


Signed and dated (upper right): John S. Sargent 1882


Gilbert Wendel Longstreet and Morris Carter. General Catalogue (Boston, 1935), p. 53.
Stuart Preston. "El Jaleo" in Alfred M. Frankfurter (ed.). The Gardner Collection (New York, 1946), p. 3.
Charles Merrill Mount. John Singer Sargent, a Biography (New York, 1955), pp. 132-34.
Ronald Hilton. Handbook of Hispanic Source Materials and Research Organizations in the United States (Stanford, California, 1956), p. 194.
Corinna Lindon Smith. Interesting People (Norman, Oklahoma, 1962), p. 168.
William N. Mason. “Notes, Records, Comments.” Gardner Museum Calendar of Events 6, no. 21 (20 Jan. 1963), p. 2
“Notes, Records, Comments.” Gardner Museum Calendar of Events 7, no. 39 (24 May 1964), p. 2. (excerpting Charles Merrill Mount, pp. 132-134)
Morris Carter. Reminiscences of Morris Carter: Did you know Mrs. Gardner? Morris Carter's Answer (Boston, 1964), pp. 52-53.
Richard Ormond. "Sargent's El Jaleo." Fenway Court (1970), pp. 2-18.
Philip Hendy. European and American Paintings in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 1974), pp. 219-21.
Mary Crawford Volk. John Singer Sargent’s El Jaleo. Exh. cat. (Boston: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum; Washington DC: National Gallery of Art, 1992), pp. 191-93, no. 50.
Anne Higonnet. "Private Museums, Public Leadership: Isabella Stewart Gardner and the Art of Cultural Authority." Cultural Leadership in America, Art Matronage and Patronage. Fenway Court, vol. 27 (Boston, 1997), pp. 79-92, no. 5.
Alan Chong et al. (eds.) Eye of the Beholder: Masterpieces from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, (Boston, 2003), pp. 150-51, 158-59.
Richard Ormond and Elaine Kilmurray. John Singer Sargent: Figures and Landscapes, 1874-1882. Complete Paintings Volume IV(New Haven and London, 2006), pp. 225-233, 265-77, cat. 772.
Alan Chong. "Mrs. Gardner's museum of myth." Res 52 (Autumn 2007), pp. 212-220, fig. 5.
Spanish Sojourns: Robert Henri and the Spirit of Spain. Exh. cat. (Savannah: Telfair Museum, 2013), p. 62.
Karen Corsano et al. John Singer Sargent and his Muse: Painting Love and Loss (New York, 2014), pp. 13-14, 23, pl. color 2.
Richard Ormond et al. Sargent: Portrait of Artists and Friends. Exh. cat. (London: National Portrait Gallery and New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2015), pp. 26, 29, 70-71, fig. 10.
Jacob Simon. "John Singer Sargent and the Framing of His Pictures" in Richard Ormond and Elaine Kilmurray (ed.). John Singer Sargent Figures and Landscapes, 1914-1925: Complete Paintings, Vol.IX (New Haven and London, 2016), pp.58-59, fig. 48. [as the frame possibly made by the gilder and framemaker Albert Hubert (active Paris, 1866-1892)]
Per Hedström (ed.) John Singer Sargent. Exh. cat. (Stockholm: Nationalmuseum, 2018), pp. 14-15, ill. p. 15.
Richard L. Kagan. The Spanish Craze: America's Fascination with the Hispanic World, 1779-1939 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2019), pp. 157-158, 264, ill. pl. 3.

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Sargent’s monumental painting, based on drawings he made in southern Spain in 1879, is named for an Andalusian dance and is roughly translated as “the ruckus.” This is a painting you can hear as well as see: heels clicking, fingers snapping,hands clapping, the sounds of singing and guitars.

Isabella Gardner’s elaborate setting for this painting features an alcove defined by a Moorish arch.The mirror on the left seems to extend the space, and the everyday objects placed casually on the floor in front continue the illusion that viewers are part of the painted scene—we have wandered into the tavern and become the audience for the performance.

The idea for this dramatic installation dates from 1914, when Gardner decided to remodel this side of the museum. She replaced the two-story music room that originally occupied this space with three galleries on the first floor (the Spanish Chapel, Spanish Cloister, and Chinese Loggia) and the spacious Tapestry Room on the second floor. Remarkably, El Jaleo didn’t even belong to Gardner at this point—it was owned by her relative through marriage, T. Jefferson Coolidge. When Coolidge saw the extraordinary custom-made setting, he apparently gave her the painting on the spot.