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

Publication date:
28 Sep 2012
Paul Mellon Centre
400 pages: 311 x 248mm
392 color + 73 b-w illus.
Sales territories:

From 1900 to 1907, John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) travelled considerably, visiting the Alps, Italy, Spain, Norway, and Palestine. In Palestine in 1905, he painted a significant group of oils and watercolours 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 which 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.

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.

"[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

“Lusciously illustrated, carefully researched . . . [a] beautiful volume.”—Publishers Weekly