Bruce Sargeant (1898-1938): The Lost Murals
Mark Beard has devoted more than two decades of his life to researching and collecting the work of Bruce Sargeant, a painter who largely concentrated on the idealization and celebration of the male form. Had Sargeant not met with a tragic and untimely death at the age of 40, he may have gone on to achieve the fame and renown awarded to such painters as James McNeill Whistler, Thomas Eakins, and Winslow Homer—artists to whom his style is often compared. Instead, Sargeant’s oeuvre remained relatively unknown for years until it was brought to light by the efforts of Beard.
“The Lost Murals” brings together large-scale canvases that were known to exist but hidden from public view for over half a century. After years of meticulous research, Beard located the murals and painstakingly arranged for their return from a number of locations around the globe. In the murals, Beard’s great-uncle portrays his favorite subject: muscular young men at the peak of form and athletic prowess. Clothed in wrestling singlets, tank tops, boxer shorts, and crisp, white dress shirts, the athletes are shown flexing and cavorting among ropes, rings, beams, and other gymnast equipment. Seen together for the first time, these murals are Sargeant’s Sistene Chapel ceiling.