Venice, John Singer Sargent (American, Florence 1856–1925 London), Watercolor and graphite on white wove paper, American

Venice

Artist:
John Singer Sargent (American, Florence 1856–1925 London)
Date:
1880–82
Culture:
American
Medium:
Watercolor and graphite on white wove paper
Dimensions:
9 7/8 x 14 in. (25.1 x 35.6 cm)
Mat: 14 1/4 × 19 1/4 in. (36.2 × 48.9 cm)
Framed (standard exhibition frame): 16 1/4 × 21 1/4 × 1 1/8 in. (41.3 × 54 × 2.9 cm)
Classification:
Drawings
Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. Francis Ormond, 1950
Accession Number:
50.130.29
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 773
In his oils of Venice from the early 1880s, Sargent avoided the picturesque and touristic views painted by many of his contemporaries. Instead, he depicted Venetians engaged in quotidian activities in subdued interiors and in the city’s narrow, dark alleys and passageways. He probably made this watercolor in preparation for one such composition. The sheet offers an oblique view into a shallow, stage-like space, and it emphasizes the dynamic recession of the planes of the street. An acquaintance who saw these works observed: "They are very clever but a good deal inspired by the desire of finding what no one else has sought here—unpicturesque subjects, absence of color, absence of sunlight."
Inscription: [on verso at upper left]: 109 Venice / By J.S. Sargent / E.S. / 8 /J [encircled]; [at center]: S /20
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