John Singer Sargent (American, Florence 1856–1925 London)
Watercolor and graphite on white wove paper
21 x 15 3/4 in. (53.3 x 40 cm)
Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1915
Not on view
Like "Tyrolese Interior," shown nearby, this watercolor was painted during the late summer or autumn of 1914 when Sargent was detained in the Tyrol after Britain and France declared war on Austria. Overtly religious symbols are rare in Sargent’s watercolors. This depiction of a carved crucifixion reflects his somber and foreboding mood as he waited to obtain the necessary travel documents to return to London. Roofed crosses were common sites in the Tyrol. Erected along roadsides or open fields, sometimes commemorative in function, such shrines served as spots of prayer and worship for travelers. Sargent exploits a low vantage point to render the lifeless, gaunt figure of Christ against a gnarled tree trunk.
Inscription: [at lower left]: John S. Sargent; [on verso at upper right]: 1005
the artist, until d. 1925; his sisters, Mrs. Francis Ormond (Violet Sargent) and Miss Emily Sargent, until 1936 (Emily Sargent's death); Mrs. Francis Ormond, until 1950