“Sargent and the Sea”

Took a few days off this week and spent part of the time at the latest John Singer Sargent exhibition at the RA in London.

Readers of this blog may have surmised I’m a Sargent fan – see blog post June 20th “Learning from the Best” – so this was an exhibition I didn’t want to miss. In particular, the exhibition shows early works from before Sargent attained fame and fortune.  I love to see lesser known works from famous artists; one of my all time favourite paintings is a seascape by Lowry.

The Sargent exhibition was no disappointment. Although many pieces were less well known they still showed the high quality draughtmanship and flamboyant brushwork I expect from Sargent. The vibrant European sunlight shines fron Sargent’s canvases so the viewer can feel the warmth. The Capri paintings had me wanting to go and book a beach holiday!

One of the rooms in the exhibition was devoted to Sargent’s stay at Cancale in Brittany, where he painted ‘En Route pour la Pêche (Setting Out to Fish)’, one of the more famous pictures in the exhibition. That work looks spontaneous but the room was filled with studies and sketches that betrayed how much preparation went in to its creation.

Other rooms showed maritime drawings, seascapes, sailors and beach scenes.  The finale was a display of Sargent’s Venetian watercolours.

My only tiny criticism of the exhibition is that I would have liked to know more about the painting techniques that Sargent employed. I used an audio guide, which was interesting but only said a little about technique.

“Sargent and the Sea” is on until 26th September. For more information visit http://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibitions/sargent-and-the-sea/

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About Jackie Garner

Wildlife artist.
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