The Watercolours of John Singer Sargent
written by Carl Little
University of California Press | ISBN 9780520219700
Paperback – 160 pages
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John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) stands among the greatest of watercolour painters, along with J.M.W. Turner, Winslow Homer, and other masters of this difficult medium. Watercolour was more than a distraction from the portrait and mural commissions Sargent labored over; after 1900, watercolour became central to his artistic vision. His aquarelles are, simply stated, masterworks. Portraits, interiors, landscapes, architectural studies -- Sargent's work in watercolour offers a great variety of subject matter, ranging from Arab gypsies to World War I soldiers, to masterful depictions of Venetian churches, to Florida swamp alligators.
Sargent carried his watercolours on his travels; They were ideally suited to capturing the scene, the light, the air, wherever he found himself. This book serves as a record of his travels, featuring the paintings he produced in Palestine, Northern Africa, the Canadian Rockies, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, and Greece. Among specific locales were the islands of Majorca and Corfu; Florence, Venice, Carrara, Lake Garda, and Rome; the Alps; Lake O'Hara; the coast of Maine and the Miami River.
Sargent's bold and often experimental use of the medium, which sometimes led to semi-abstract images, compels admiration among contemporary painters as well as museum goers today. In addition to placing Sargent's accomplishments in the context of his life and time, Carl Little discusses the artist's extraordinary watercolour technique.