John Singer Sargent: Figures and Landscapes, 1900-1907


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The Complete Paintings, Volume VII

Richard Ormond and Elaine Kilmurray

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

"The seventh volume of the Sargent catalogue raisonne maintains the meticulous production standards of its predecessors… Almost 300 works are carefully catalogued and illustrated."—Apollo Magazine

"This is the seventh volume in the Complete Works of Sargent project, and in many ways the most interesting so far… Thanks to… Richard Ormond and Elaine Kilmurray, it is now possible to see Sargent in a completely new light: as one of the key figures in modern art… All this is beautifully recorded in this book, which everyone who loves or practices art should have on the shelf."—Paul Johnson, Literary Review

"Clearly a labour of love… The scope and scale of [Richard Ormond and Elaine Kilmurray’s] scholarship is simply astonishing, and their assiduity simply beggars belief… [They] are right to remind us… how great Sargent was, so much an artist of his time, and how good his painting still is." —William Packer in The Times

"The most significant art book of the year." —Paul Johnson, New Statesman
ISBN: 9780300177350
Publication Date: November 13, 2012
Publishing Partner: Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art
400 pages, 9 3/4 x 12 1/4
392 color + 73 b/w illus.
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