My new favorite Sargent painting (at right) is Rosina, painted in Capri in 1876. This is from Sargent's Women, a book I bought after seeing the great Sargent show at the Brooklyn Museum.
John Singer Sargent and James McNeill Whistler are best known for their large, glamorous society portraits. Sargent's masterpieces were "Madame X and Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose, and Whistler's, Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 1: Portrait of the Painter's Mother. All those are very skillful, but not my favorite. Yet they're still among my favorite artists due to their work that stands almost at the opposite end of the spectrum in style and subject matter - their revolutionary watercolors, sketches, and prints.
Sargent, Whistler and Winslow Homer were the first to break through the stodgy tradition of English watercolors and get their loose, sketchy watercolors exhibited as legitimate artwork rather than seen as preparatory sketches for larger formal oil works. The Impressionistic concepts that changed the Paris art world a few decades earlier finally migrated fully to the US. Sargent's watercolors, like other Impressionistic works, focus on light, natural landscapes, and casual people.
Sargent has been one of my favorite artists for many years now. I've seen several exhibits of his work. I recently included Whistler on this page after seeing a revelatory show of his prints from Venice in the Freer Gallery in Washington D.C.
Sargent's work was criticized after his death for its superficiality and lack of modern sensibility. But, much like Norman Rockwell and other artists from the Golden Age of Illustration, his supreme technical skill and amazing sense of realism has received more appreciation recently.
Personally, watercolor has always been one of my favorite media - I have no talent with oils. I've also always appreciated a fast, unfinished style and economy of strokes that are epitomized by Sargent's deft brushstrokes. Seeing large Sargent exhibits at the Met in NYC and the National Gallery in DC cemented my appreciation for his work.
I've created this page to spotlight these artists since web sites for them seemed sparse and I wanted to offer some unique content on my site. I've included some of my favorite Sargent watercolors, biographies of both artists, and some links for further exploration of their vast catalogues. And please visit my new page of prints from Whistler's beautiful Venice series.