Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sargent's Watercolors

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 John Singer Sargent's Watercolors at The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston did not fail to leave me starry-eyed. 90 of my favorite paintings ever!...and sort of old best friends. The first real artist's monograph I ever owned was Donaldson F. Hoopes Sargent Watercolors pub. 1970 Watson Gupthill. I scrutinized those images for hundreds of hours at the time I was learning to paint in watercolor. As is always the case, the actual paintings are dazzling. Seeing them in the extensive purple galleries, perfectly lighted made for an unforgettable experience.

The colors! The strokes! The composition! The draftsmanship! The light! Masterful!

I know many of you saw this exhibit in NYC. The story of how the Broooklyn Museum and Museum of Fine Art came to purchase the bulk of Sargent's watercolor paintings a hundred years ago is an interesting one. They have aged superbly...relevant now in their abstract picture form and spontaneous paint handling. His sparsely painted figures live and breath with the merest of gesture and feature. He considered his watercolors to be a body of work in it's own right...not as staging or support of his monumental oils.

The galleries are arranged by subject; Venice, Mountains, Alpine Streams, Figures, Carera Marble Quarries with workmen, Gardens, Bedouins. It is worth braving Boston traffic to see. Take two friends. I did.

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