This picture represents the Italian painter Ambrogio Raffele, with whom Sargent vacationed in the Italian Alps.
Raffele is using his tiny hotel room as a studio; he and his landscape painting are shifted to the left corner, and much of this composition is given over to laundry and rumpled bed linens.
The London Times wrote admiringly, “Surely, never were tumbled white sheets so painted before.”
The pictorial challenge of painting white on white is one Sargent particularly enjoyed; he handled it with extraordinary bravura here.
Purchased by the MFA the year after it was completed, An Artist in His Studio was the first painting by Sargent to be acquired by an American museum.