Sargent and the Sea – Royal Academy of Arts, London






Royal Academy of Arts, London

THE SACKLER WING OF GALLERIES



Sargent and the Sea
10 July – 26 September 2010





The Royal Academy of Arts presents an exhibition of works by John Singer Sargent RA (1856-1925). Sargent was born in Florence to expatriate American parents. A widely travelled and sophisticated cosmopolitan, he is best known as one of the greatest painters of his day – “the Van Dyck of our times” as the sculptor Auguste Rodin called him.


John Singer Sargent


John Singer Sargent
Atlantic Storm, 1876
Oil on canvas
58.5 x 81.5 cm
Curtis Galleries, Minneapolis
© All rights reserved





In this exhibition, however, we discover a different and less familiar side of the artist: Sargent the marine painter. Over 70 paintings, drawings and watercolours produced during the young artist’s travels from Paris to the Normandy and Brittany coasts, the Italian island of Capri, and to various Mediterranean ports form the subject of this revelatory exhibition, the first in Britain to explore this aspect of Sargent’s achievement.

The exhibition focuses on the formative years of Sargent’s artistic career covering the period of 1874 to around 1879. It opens with works made during summer expeditions to the Normandy and Brittany coasts in 1874 and 1875 and continues with a series of outstanding and innovative seascapes, including three newly discovered works that were inspired by Sargent’s experience of the Atlantic when he visited his native America for the first time. A group of drawings and a littleknown scrapbook lent by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, reveal Sargent’s precocious talent as a draughtsman and his detailed knowledge of ships’ rigging and tackle.

Sargent and the Sea features three major exhibition pictures of Sargent’s early career: En Route pour la pêche, an imposing painting of fisherfolk in the little Breton port of Cancale, which was displayed at the Paris Salon in 1878; Fishing for Oysters at Cancale which established Sargent’s reputation in America when it was first shown in New York in the spring of 1878; Neapolitan Children Bathing, a vivid evocation of the brilliant light and blue sea of Capri that was exhibited to glowing reviews in New York the following year. A group of Mediterranean port scenes in oil and watercolour add another dimension to Sargent’s maritime oeuvre. To complement the exhibition there is a selection of the dazzling boating watercolours that Sargent painted in Venice in the early twentieth century.


John Singer Sargent


John Singer Sargent
En Route pour la peche (Setting Out to Fish), 1878
Oil on canvas
78.8 x 122.8 cm
Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Museum Purchase, Gallery Fund 17.2
Curtis Galleries, Minneapolis
© All rights reserved

John Singer Sargent


John Singer Sargent
Neapolitan Children Bathing, 1879
Oil on canvas
16.8 x 41.1 cm
Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Massachusetts, 1955.852
© All rights reserved

John Singer Sargent


John Singer Sargent
Wharf Scene, 1879
Oil on canvas (grisaille)
32.7 x 46 cm
Mr and Mrs Wiliam Miller, Jr.
© All rights reserved





For Sargent, the sea represented new horizons and stimulated new artistic ideas, as is evident from the range of his early marine subjects that are on view in the exhibition. Positioned between the traditional and the modern, Sargent tested the boundaries of marine art with unconventional viewpoints, the realism with which he rendered light and tone, and the bravura brushwork that would be a distinguishing feature of his later career.

Organisation

Sargent and the Sea has been organised by the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. in cooperation with the Royal Academy of Arts, London. Supported by the Terra Foundation for American Art, Christie’s, The Mr & Mrs. Raymond J Horowitz Foundation for the Arts, Inc, the National Endowment for the Arts, as part of ‘American Masterpieces: Three Centuries of Artistic Genius’, and The Joseph F McCrindle Foundation. Sargent and the Sea has been curated by Sarah Cash, the Bechhoefer Curator of American Art at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. and the well known scholar, Richard Ormond.






Courtesy Royal Academy of Arts, London
Images © The Trustees of the British Museum





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~ by Stampfli & Turci on August 15, 2010.

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