JOHN SINGER SARGENT WATERCOLOURS AT DULWICH NEXT YEAR
Image: John Singer Sargent, The lady with the umbrella, 1911, watercolour and pencil on paper, 65 x 54 cm, Museu de Montserrat. Donated by J. Sala Ardiz. Image © Dani Rovira
In June next year Dulwich Picture Gallery will present the first major UK exhibition of watercolours by the Anglo-American artist John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), since 1927.
A key selection of works from over 30 lenders, including The lady with the umbrella, 1911, on display in the UK for the first time, will offer an alternative perspective on Sargent, demonstrating a technical brilliance and striking individuality.
‘Sargent: The Watercolours’ will bring together nearly 80 works from arguably Sargent’s greatest period of watercolour production between 1900 and 1918. Renowned as the leading portraitist of his generation, Sargent mastered the medium of watercolour during his painting expeditions to Southern Europe and the Middle East, where he developed a distinctive way of seeing and composing. Whilst these watercolours have often been dismissed as simple travel souvenirs, they were an integral part of Sargent’s artistic production.
Arranged thematically, the exhibition will showcase Sargent’s landscapes, architectural structures and figurative scenes. It will draw attention to the most radical aspects of his oeuvre, in particular his use of the close-up to focus attention on a specific motif, his unusual use of perspective and the arresting and dynamic poses of his figures. The show will also serve as a startling reminder of Sargent’s mastery of the visual complexities of light, the effects of which are present in almost every one of his works.
Richard Ormond, co-curator of the exhibition, said:
“In Sargent’s watercolours we see his zest for life and his pleasure in the act of painting. The fluency and sensuality of his paint surfaces, and his wonderful command of light, never cease to astonish us. With this exhibition we hope to demonstrate Sargent’s mastery of the medium and the scale of his achievement”.
Sargent practiced the art of watercolour from a young age and continued to use it throughout his career, his style developing in tandem with his work in oils. By 1900, aged 44 and at the height of his career, he had grown restless, seeking escape from the confines of his studio and the pressures of portrait commissions. Working en plein air he explored subjects of his own choosing, travelling to remote spots where he could work undisturbed. For this purpose, he regularly turned to watercolour, a medium that allowed him to paint, rapidly and without much preparation, a scene that caught his eye.
Sargent: The Watercolours
21 June – 8 October 2017
200 years of visitors:
In 2017 Dulwich Picture Gallery will celebrate 200 years since it first opened its doors to the public in 1817. The Gallery will be marking the celebrations in June with the opening of the first Dulwich Pavilion in partnership with the London Festival of Architecture as well as a special programme of events and displays throughout the year.
John Singer Sargent, The lady with the umbrella, 1911, watercolour and pencil on paper, 65 x 54 cm, Museu de Montserrat. Donated by J. Sala Ardiz. Image © Dani Rovira