Landscapes from the Age of Impressionism

Born in Florence, Italy having American parents, the most flourishing portrait painter during his time John Singer Sargent becomes a part of an exhibition at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, through his eye-catching landscapes and masterpieces. During his time, the world of art is dominated by Cubism, Fauvism and Impressionism.

However, John Sargent accomplished his masterpieces through his own form of Realism. His skills, as well as his form, were honed under the tutelage of Emile Auguste Carolus-Duran in Paris from 1874 to 1878, after studying rigorously in both Italy and Germany. John Sargent’s paternal grandfather was a Spanish descent and he carefully studied the paintings in the Prado during an extended residency in Madrid from 1866 to 1868 (Boone, 117).

Constantly the internationalist, John Sargent journeyed by train from Paris to Madrid, and he was in the Prado by October 14, and the several of copies that he completed, such as the painting of a dwarf then credited to Velasquez and a detail of Velasquez’s “Las bilanderas” in 1879, recommends or advocates a stay of just more than one month. Sargent also has several collections of photographs after Velasquez’, “Don Antonio el ingles” and “Las Bilanderas”.

In addition to this, he also had “The Surrender of Breda”, “the Forge of Vulcan” and “Las meninas”, which he stored or set aside in a scrapbook. These photographs served as souvenirs from his trip as well as reference material for his study of art history, and motivation for fresh works of art (Boone, 280).

John Singer Sargent is fond of life. John Sargent finds the the people portrayed rather than the setting to be exotic. His love for life, as well as being a painter, can be observed in some of his masterpieces such as in “Dolce Far Niente” and “The Sketchers”.

“The Sketchers” (1856-1925) is John Sargent’s 22 by 28 inches masterpiece which uses oil on canvas as medium. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts was able to acquire this artwork through the help of Arthur and Margaret Glasgow Fund, in the year 1958. In “The Sketchers”, there is an interplay of light and dark or chiaroscuro which can be instantly recognized.

The left side of the painting shows scuro (dark), while the right side shows chiaro (light). The chiaro can be observed through the shadows and darker shade or hue of colors used through the trees and on the left side of the white umbrella. In addition to this, the background “sky” on the left side is darker as compared to that on the left side. These darker shades or shadows are results of the light from a source which can be observed to be coming from the right side of the painting.

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