American expatriate John Singer Sargent is best known for his dashing portraits and in particular for his painting of the Parisian socialite Virginie Gautreau (Madame X), which caused a scandal at the Paris Salon of 1884 because of the sitter’s provocative dress. Although Sargent lived primarily in Paris before 1884 and in London afterwards, he was constantly restless and never happier than when he was traveling throughout Europe.
This almost abstract watercolor depicting boats moored in a canal was completed during one of Sargent’s many trips to the historic Italian city of Venice, which was also a favorite subject of America’s other famous expatriate, James McNeill Whistler. One could argue that the true subject of Sargent’s painting is actually the constantly shifting patterns created by the play of the famous Venetian light as it dances off of the restless surface of the canal and plays across the nearby boats and buildings.
Place object was created: United States
watercolor, paper (fiber product)
Measurements: sheet height: 10 inches sheet width: 14.0625 inches frame height: 22.25 inches frame width: 26.25 inchesThe Harry and Mary Dalton Collection 2000.36.23
Currently on view at Mint Museum UPTOWN