Tag Archives: John Singer Sargent

#FineArtFriday: Gassed by John Singer Sargent 1919

2560px-Sargent,_John_Singer_(RA)_-_Gassed_-_Google_Art_ProjectArtist: John Singer Sargent (1856–1925)

Title: Gassed

Date: 1919

Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions: Height: 231 cm (90.9 in); Width: 611.1 cm (20 ft)

What I love about this painting:

This painting is a powerful antiwar statement. John Singer Sargent was a complicated man, as most artists are. Famous as a portrait artist, he painted landscapes that conveyed a sense of mood and emotion that few of his contemporaries could match.

He was commissioned as a war artist by the British Ministry of Information. He illustrated numerous scenes from the Great War. Sargent had been affected by what he had seen while touring the front in France and by the death of his niece Rose-Marie in the shelling of the St Gervais church, Paris, on Good Friday 1918.

The colors are muted, and even the pastels are dark and dirty. The suffering of the maimed and injured men is laid bare. Through the legs of the walking wounded, the rising moon illuminates the desire of the uninjured to try to find some normalcy. Dwarfing the players and their game, the vast sea of dead and injured stretches as far as the eye can see.

Above, two tiny figures represent the clash of biplanes in the distance, the ever-moving machine of death and inhumanity that is war.

About this painting, via Wikipedia:

[1] Gassed is a very large oil painting completed in March 1919 by John Singer Sargent. It depicts the aftermath of a mustard gas attack during the First World War, with a line of wounded soldiers walking towards a dressing station. Sargent was commissioned by the British War Memorials Committee to document the war and visited the Western Front in July 1918 spending time with the Guards Division near Arras, and then with the American Expeditionary Forces near Ypres. The painting was finished in March 1919 and voted picture of the year by the Royal Academy of Arts in 1919. It is now held by the Imperial War Museum. It visited the US in 1999 for a series of retrospective exhibitions, and then from 2016 to 2018 for exhibitions commemorating the centenary of the First World War.

The painting measures 231.0 by 611.1 centimeters (7 ft 6.9 in × 20 ft 0.6 in). The composition includes a central group of eleven soldiers depicted nearly life-size. Nine wounded soldiers walk in a line, in three groups of three, along a duckboard towards a dressing station, suggested by the guy ropes to the right side of the picture. Their eyes are bandaged, blinded by the effect of the gas, so they are assisted by two medical orderlies. The line of tall, blind soldiers forms a naturalist allegorical frieze, with connotations of a religious procession. Many other dead or wounded soldiers lie around the central group, and a similar train of eight wounded, with two orderlies, advances in the background. Biplanes dogfight in the evening sky above, as a watery setting sun creates a pinkish yellow haze and burnishes the subjects with a golden light. In the background, the moon also rises, and uninjured men play association football in blue and red shirts, seemingly unconcerned at the suffering all around them.

The painting provides a powerful testimony of the effects of chemical weapons, vividly described in Wilfred Owen‘s poem Dulce et Decorum Est. Mustard gas is a persistent vesicant gas, with effects that only become apparent several hours after exposure. It attacks the skin, the eyes and the mucous membranes, causing large skin blisters, blindness, choking and vomiting. Death, although rare, can occur within two days, but suffering may be prolonged over several weeks.

Sargent’s painting refers to Bruegel’s 1568 work The Parable of the Blind, with the blind leading the blind, and it also alludes to Rodin’s Burghers of Calais.

About the Artist, via Wikipedia:

[2] 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. [2]


Credits and Attributions:

[1] Wikipedia contributors, “Gassed (painting),” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Gassed_(painting)&oldid=1029966714 (accessed July 15, 2021).

[2] Wikipedia contributors, “John Singer Sargent,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=John_Singer_Sargent&oldid=1032671314 (accessed July 15, 2021).

Image source: File:Sargent, John Singer (RA) – Gassed – Google Art Project.jpg – Wikipedia (accessed July 15, 2021).

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#FineArtFriday: Bringing down marble from the quarries to Carrara, Sargent 1911 (revisited)

John_Singer_Sargent_-_Bringing_Down_Marble_from_the_Quarries_to_Carrara_(1911)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.

Date: 1911

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>.

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#FineArtFriday: Bringing down marble from the quarries to Carrara, Sargent 1911

Artist: John Singer Sargent  (1856–1925)

Title: Bringing down marble from the quarries to Carrara

Date: 1911

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>.

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#FineArtFriday: The Gondoliers’ Siesta, John Singer Sargent 1904 

The Gondoliers’ Siesta, John Singer Sargent 1904  

Artist: John Singer Sargent  (1856–1925)

Title: English: Gondoliers’ Siesta

Date: circa 1904

Medium: watercolor

Dimensions: 35.6 x 50.8 cm

Collection: Private collection, courtesy of Adelson Galleries

Current location: New York

Source/Photographer   Beyeler Foundation

What I Love About this Painting:

John Singer Sargent shows us a moment in time, set in Venice of 1904. It is an image capturing the heat of midday and the well-deserved rest of two men whose lives are spent on the water. They are well-employed, earning a good living by ferrying passengers from one end of town to another. During their heyday as a means of public transports, teams of four men would share ownership of a gondola — three oarsmen (gondoliers) and a fourth person, primarily shore based and responsible for the booking and administration of the gondola (Il Rosso Riserva).

About Singer’s Watercolors, via Wikipedia:

During Sargent’s long career, he painted more than 2,000 watercolors, roving from the English countryside to Venice to the Tyrol, Corfu, the Middle East, Montana, Maine, and Florida. Each destination offered pictorial stimulation and treasure. Even at his leisure, in escaping the pressures of the portrait studio, he painted with restless intensity, often painting from morning until night.

His hundreds of watercolors of Venice are especially notable, many done from the perspective of a gondola. His colors were sometimes extremely vivid and as one reviewer noted, “Everything is given with the intensity of a dream.” In the Middle East and North Africa Sargent painted Bedouins, goatherds, and fisherman. In the last decade of his life, he produced many watercolors in Maine, Florida, and in the American West, of fauna, flora, and native peoples.

With his watercolors, Sargent was able to indulge his earliest artistic inclinations for nature, architecture, exotic peoples, and noble mountain landscapes. And it is in some of his late works where one senses Sargent painting most purely for himself. His watercolors were executed with a joyful fluidness. He also painted extensively family, friends, gardens, and fountains. In watercolors, he playfully portrayed his friends and family dressed in Orientalist costume, relaxing in brightly lit landscapes that allowed for a more vivid palette and experimental handling than did his commissions (The Chess Game, 1906). His first major solo exhibit of watercolor works was at the Carfax Gallery in London in 1905. In 1909, he exhibited eighty-six watercolors in New York City, eighty-three of which were bought by the Brooklyn Museum. Evan Charteris wrote in 1927:

To live with Sargent’s water-colours is to live with sunshine captured and held, with the luster of a bright and legible world, ‘the refluent shade’ and ‘the Ambient ardours of the noon.’

Although not generally accorded the critical respect given Winslow Homer, perhaps America’s greatest watercolorist, scholarship has revealed that Sargent was fluent in the entire range of opaque and transparent watercolor technique, including the methods used by Homer.

About the Artist, via Wikipedia:

John Singer Sargent born January 12, 1856 – died 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.

He was born in Florence to American parents, and 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 “society” artists such as Sargent until the late 20th century.

Sargent’s early enthusiasm was for landscapes, not portraiture, as evidenced by his voluminous sketches full of mountains, seascapes, and buildings. Carolus-Duran’s expertise in portraiture finally influenced Sargent in that direction. Commissions for history paintings were still considered more prestigious, but were much harder to get. Portrait painting, on the other hand, was the best way of promoting an art career, getting exhibited in the Salon, and gaining commissions to earn a livelihood.


Credits and Attributions:

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:John Singer Sargent, Gondoliers’ Siesta.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:John_Singer_Sargent,_Gondoliers%E2%80%99_Siesta.jpg&oldid=149791025 (accessed May 22, 2020).

Wikipedia contributors, “John Singer Sargent,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=John_Singer_Sargent&oldid=956888160 (accessed May 22, 2020).

Wikipedia contributors, “Gondola,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Gondola&oldid=950230627 (accessed May 22, 2020).

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#FineArtFriday: An Out-of-Doors Study by John Singer Sargent

Artist: John Singer Sargent  (1856–1925)

Title: An Out-of-Doors Study

Description: English: Paul César Helleu Sketching with his wife Alice

Signature bottom right: John S. Sargent

Date: 1889

Medium: oil on canvas

Dimensions: Height: 65.9 cm (25.9 ″); Width: 80.7 cm (31.7 ″)

Today’s image, An Out-of-Doors Study, 1889, is by expatriate American artist, John Singer Sargent. It depicts fellow artist and great friend, Paul César Helleu sketching with his wife Alice Guérin.

What I love about this painting:

This painting depicts a day in the life of two great artists. The grass looks very like that which grows beside streams in my part of the world. The colors are that mix of green and brown that long grass has when summer is just beginning. The blue sky is reflected in the water. They had taken advantage of a fine day in late May or June perhaps, fortunate to have an outing before high summer turns the meadow grass crisp and brown.

The quality of light that day was perfect for a picnic beside the water. One can imagine the two artists working on their individual projects and chatting, having a relaxing lunch, and then taking a quiet walk. We can even wonder if, later, they might have taken the canoe out.

This is a pleasant scene, brightening up my dark December day.

About the artist, via Wikipedia:

Sargent’s early enthusiasm was for landscapes, not portraiture, as evidenced by his voluminous sketches full of mountains, seascapes, and buildings. Carolus-Duran’s expertise in portraiture finally influenced Sargent in that direction. Commissions for history paintings were still considered more prestigious, but were much harder to get. Portrait painting, on the other hand, was the best way of promoting an art career, getting exhibited in the Salon, and gaining commissions to earn a livelihood.

In a time when the art world focused, in turn, on ImpressionismFauvism, and Cubism, Sargent practiced his own form of Realism, which made brilliant references to VelázquezVan Dyck, and Gainsborough.


Credits and Attributions:

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Sargent – Paul Helleu Sketching with his Wife.jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Sargent_-_Paul_Helleu_Sketching_with_his_Wife.jpg&oldid=273586527 (accessed December 5, 2019).

Wikipedia contributors, “John Singer Sargent,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=John_Singer_Sargent&oldid=927728162 (accessed December 5, 2019).

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#FineArtFriday: Portrait of Madame X by John Singer Sargent 1884


What I love about this Painting:

I love everything–the moody colors and textures–she needs no necklace, no jewels to prove she is someone unforgettable.

Madame X is mysterious; she is a promise unspoken.

She is dangerous the way uncharted seas are.

Her pose, the elegance of the black dress, the turn of her head—this portrait shouts “Here is a woman to be reckoned with.” Everyone who knew Virginie Amélie Avegno Gautreau said that in this Portrait of Madame X, American expatriate artist  John Singer Sargent captured something real, something true about the woman, something well beyond the unashamed sexuality of the portrait.

About this painting, via Wikipedia:

(John Singer Sargent’s) most controversial work, Portrait of Madame X (Madame Pierre Gautreau) (1884) is now considered one of his best works, and was the artist’s personal favorite; he stated in 1915, “I suppose it is the best thing I have done.” When unveiled in Paris at the 1884 Salon, it aroused such a negative reaction that it likely prompted Sargent’s move to London. Sargent’s self-confidence had led him to attempt a risqué experiment in portraiture—but this time it unexpectedly backfired. The painting was not commissioned by her and he pursued her for the opportunity, quite unlike most of his portrait work where clients sought him out. Sargent wrote to a common acquaintance:

I have a great desire to paint her portrait and have reason to think she would allow it and is waiting for someone to propose this homage to her beauty. …you might tell her that I am a man of prodigious talent.

It took well over a year to complete the painting. The first version of the portrait of Madame Gautreau, with the famously plunging neckline, white-powdered skin, and arrogantly cocked head, featured an intentionally suggestive off-the-shoulder dress strap, on her right side only, which made the overall effect more daring and sensual. Sargent repainted the strap to its expected over-the-shoulder position to try to dampen the furor, but the damage had been done. French commissions dried up and he told his friend Edmund Gosse in 1885 that he contemplated giving up painting for music or business.

Writing of the reaction of visitors, Judith Gautier observed:

“Is it a woman? a chimera, the figure of a unicorn rearing as on a heraldic coat of arms or perhaps the work of some oriental decorative artist to whom the human form is forbidden and who, wishing to be reminded of woman, has drawn the delicious arabesque? No, it is none of these things, but rather the precise image of a modern woman scrupulously drawn by a painter who is a master of his art.”


Credits and Attributions:

Wikipedia contributors, “John Singer Sargent,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=John_Singer_Sargent&oldid=904608954 (accessed July 25, 2019).

Madame X (Madame Pierre Gautreau), by John Singer Sargent, 1884 PD|100

Wikimedia Commons contributors, “File:Madame X (Madame Pierre Gautreau), John Singer Sargent, 1884 (unfree frame crop).jpg,” Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=File:Madame_X_(Madame_Pierre_Gautreau),_John_Singer_Sargent,_1884_(unfree_frame_crop).jpg&oldid=358225955 (accessed July 25, 2019).

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