Today we are revisiting a painting I first posted in January of this year, Bringing down marble from the quarries to Carrara, by John Singer Sargent (1856–1925). This is a painting that conveys the lives and efforts of quarrymen in the way all of Sargent’s paintings of the working class do. You see the heat they work in, and feel their effort as they go about their tasks in the same way as their fathers did before them, and their grandfathers.
Medium: oil on canvas
Dimensions: Height: 71.4 cm (28.1 in); Width: 91.8 cm (36.1 in)
Collection: Metropolitan Museum of Art
Inscriptions: Signature bottom left: John S. Sargent
What I love about this painting:
This picture details the relentless heat of the day, the back-breaking labor of men cutting marble. This is how quarrying was done prior to World War I, with steam-donkeys and great physical peril. The ropes are huge and heavy, and these men secure the dangerous load with practiced ease.
Carrara Italy is an important center for the extraction and processing of marble. The famous stone is white and exceedingly valuable.
One of Sargent’s great skills was the ability to convey the sensory impressions of an environment, depicting his characters outdoors in all the seasons.
About the Artist, via Wikipedia:
John Singer Sargent, January 12, 1856 – April 14, 1925) was an American expatriate artist, considered the “leading portrait painter of his generation” for his evocations of Edwardian-era luxury. He created roughly 900 oil paintings and more than 2,000 watercolors, as well as countless sketches and charcoal drawings. His oeuvre documents worldwide travel, from Venice to the Tyrol, Corfu, the Middle East, Montana, Maine, and Florida.
Born in Florence to American parents, he was trained in Paris before moving to London, living most of his life in Europe. He enjoyed international acclaim as a portrait painter. An early submission to the Paris Salon in the 1880s, his Portrait of Madame X, was intended to consolidate his position as a society painter in Paris, but instead resulted in scandal. During the next year following the scandal, Sargent departed for England where he continued a successful career as a portrait artist.
From the beginning, Sargent’s work is characterized by remarkable technical facility, particularly in his ability to draw with a brush, which in later years inspired admiration as well as criticism for a supposed superficiality. His commissioned works were consistent with the grand manner of portraiture, while his informal studies and landscape paintings displayed a familiarity with Impressionism. In later life Sargent expressed ambivalence about the restrictions of formal portrait work, and devoted much of his energy to mural painting and working en plein air. Art historians generally ignored artists who painted Royalty and “Society” – such as Sargent – until the late 20th century.
CREDITS AND ATTRIBUTIONS
John Singer Sargent, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
“Carrara.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 16, 2021, 12:36 utc. 29 Jan 2021, 03:23 <//en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Carrara&oldid=118022943>.
“File:John Singer Sargent – Bringing Down Marble from the Quarries to Carrara (1911).jpg.” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository. 15 Jun 2019, 13:13 UTC. 29 Jan 2021, 03:24 <https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:John_Singer_Sargent_-_Bringing_Down_Marble_from_the_Quarries_to_Carrara_(1911).jpg&oldid=354733943>.
2 responses to “#FineArtFriday: Bringing down marble from the quarries to Carrara, Sargent 1911 (revisited)”
Photographic in its intensity, amazing really
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I agree! The more paintings I see, the more I find myself admiring Sargent’s work as much as I do any of the great masters. I’m an art lover, and not really knowledgeable about it, but I think he had a gift for showing us more than just the physical reality of working life. He showed us their stories, how they felt about their work, and what their lives were like, capturing it in one image.
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