I’ve been thoroughly in love with art of all kinds since I was a tiny tot – it came naturally to me by way of my father, who was an award-winning architect and accomplished artist himself. I have warm happy memories of hanging out with him in the early seventies at the Westheimer Street Festival here in Houston. I’d make a little nest with blankets for myself beneath the large A-Frame display where he displayed his latest work, watching the activity all around us from my little hideout, curling up for a nap when the day grew late.
Dad started taking me to Houston art museums when I was a child, my favorite was MFAH where he’d let me lead the way to any displays that caught my eye.
Sadly, I inherited zero artistic ability from dad – I can’t even draw a proper stick man! But my love of art has never wavered.
Not too long ago, I discovered a wonderful app called Daily Art – it sends me a different work of art every afternoon, with a bit of info and history about the work, the artist, and links to more information about the era or style. Many I recognize, but just as many are treasures I’ve never seen before.
Recently I clicked on my daily notification and whoa – I felt an instant jolt of attraction and my stomach did a little flip-flop. Who is this dark and sensual man, in a crimson velvet dressing gown, just radiating erotic sensuality, I wondered. I was besotted. The painting was called Dr. Pozzi at Home, by John Singer Sargent. I love Sargent, how on earth had I never seen this divine creature before?
Naturally I started Googling within seconds, eager to learn more about his dark, mysterious man – Dr Samuel-Jean Pozzi, born in France in 1846. Come to find out, he was – unsurprisingly – a notorious ladies man in his time (late 19th century – during La Belle Époque), a well-regarded surgeon and gynecologist (no I’m not kidding), known in his time for his many torrid love affairs – including a scorching hot ten year affair with the French actress Sarah Bernhardt.
Nicknamed “The Love Doctor,” and “The Siren,” he was in fact much more than a rake. He served in two wars as a military surgeon, was a committed patron and supporter of the arts, a world traveler and anthropologist, as well as friend and translator to Charles Darwin.
Even his death was dramatic: shot to death by a disgruntled former patient, enraged that the doctor’s surgery years before had left him impotent.
How has there not been a movie about this man?