This book explores how the young American painter in just over a decade jumped from apprenticeship to wide acclaim, how he presented himself and his works, and how he sought to shape public perception of his talent. The book includes illustrations of almost every painting Sargent exhibited in Paris, London, and New York through 1887. Drawing on the correspondence of the artist, his friends, and his family, as well as an extensive review of contemporary critical responses, the text examines these works of Sargent's early maturity - some not exhibited in this century and others among his best-known work, including Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose and Madame X. The authors contend the canvases present a fresh view of Sargent's aspirations and ambitions, representing a metaphoric self-portrait of the artist as a young man. The early paintings, their relationship to one another, and their reception also shed light on the complex, cosmopolitan art world in which Sargent lived.