John Singer Sargent: Figures and Landscapes, 1900-1907: The Complete Paintings, Volume VII

Overview

From 1900 to 1907, John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) traveled considerably, visiting the Alps, Italy, Spain, Norway, and Palestine. In Palestine in 1905, he painted a significant group of oils and watercolors as well as a group of studies of the Bedouin. It was during this burst of artistic production that he painted The Mountains of Moab (Tate Gallery, London), which was the first pure landscape he ever exhibited (Royal Academy, 1906). In Italy and Spain, Sargent painted parks, gardens, fountains, and statues, ...

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Overview

From 1900 to 1907, John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) traveled considerably, visiting the Alps, Italy, Spain, Norway, and Palestine. In Palestine in 1905, he painted a significant group of oils and watercolors as well as a group of studies of the Bedouin. It was during this burst of artistic production that he painted The Mountains of Moab (Tate Gallery, London), which was the first pure landscape he ever exhibited (Royal Academy, 1906). In Italy and Spain, Sargent painted parks, gardens, fountains, and statues, subjects that reveal his taste for the high style of Renaissance and Mannerist art and for the romantic grandeur of deserted spaces.

As evidenced by the works in this new volume, Sargent reinvented himself as a landscape painter during his travels. Expressing a finely developed sense of modernity, he selected quirky angles of vision and used a range of compositional strategies—compression, foreshortening, abrupt croppings, and receding perspectives—in a manner that is quasi-photographic. He exploited the material qualities of pigment, and the impasto is often so thickly applied that figure and landscape seem to dissolve together creating rich, near abstract surface patterns. The restless handling and dynamic compositional rhythms act in creative tension with the artist's more traditional subject matter, generating notions of instability and ambiguity that are distinctly modern in character.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This lusciously illustrated, carefully researched volume covers a period when Sargent, despite his “demanding, internationally based portrait practice” and commitment to a mural cycle for the Boston Public Library, began to “paint as he chose rather than as commissions dictated” and to focus more on landscape and figure studies in travels across Europe and the Middle East. Organized thematically and by location, the book provides “a wider view of Sargent’s work,” with detailed descriptions and analyses of the paintings and the context in which they were created, as well as lively excerpts from original sources. For example, Vanessa Bell’s 1903 description of studying with Sargent: “The one thing he is down upon is when he thinks anyone is trying for effect regardless of truth.” Ormond and Kilmurray illuminate how Sargent looked “back and forward... highlighting the fluidity of the dividing line between the traditional and modern,” searched “for a more authentic, less mediated experience,” and understood modernity: that “there is an inherent value in the means of depiction, rather than in the object depicted,” as well as his “ambivalence toward the modern world” and “changing understanding of the natural world and the contingent nature of modern experience.” Libraries, art lovers, and Sargent fans will appreciate this beautiful volume. 392 color and 73 b&w illus. (Nov.)
Commonweal - Robert Kiely
"[S]tunningly beautiful . . . [John Singer Sargent's] watercolors of Venice are so luminous, so brilliant, so breathtaking that one would never wish to put him or this gorgeous volume of Venetian Figures and Landscapes 1898—1913 on a back shelf."—Robert Kiely, Commonweal
Commonweal
[S]tunningly beautiful . . . [John Singer Sargent's] watercolors of Venice are so luminous, so brilliant, so breathtaking that one would never wish to put him or this gorgeous volume of Venetian Figures and Landscapes 1898—1913 on a back shelf.—Robert Kiely, Commonweal

— Robert Kiely

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Richard Ormond is a Sargent scholar and independent art historian. He is a great-nephew of John Singer Sargent. Elaine Kilmurray is coauthor and research director of the John Singer Sargent catalogue raisonné project.

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