John Singer Sargent by Richard Ormond
Figures and Landscapes, 1900-1907: The Complete Paintings, Volume VII (The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art)

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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.


About Richard Ormond

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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.
Published November 13, 2012 by Paul Mellon Centre BA. 400 pages
Genres: History, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction

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The New York Times

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WASHINGTON — John Singer Sargent may have crossed oceans, but he was hardly a marine painter.

Dec 17 2009 | Read Full Review of John Singer Sargent: Figures ...

Publishers Weekly

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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 fo...

Oct 15 2012 | Read Full Review of John Singer Sargent: Figures ...

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