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Group with Parasols (Siesta)

John Singer Sargent American

Not on view

This dazzling painting shows four of Sargent’s friends asleep in an Alpine meadow on the Italian side of the Matterhorn. The figures are so intermingled with each other and the landscape that it is difficult to differentiate between them. At left, two women, Dos Palmer (ca. 1879–1961) and Lillian Mellor (b. ca. 1881–?), nap beneath white parasols. To the right, Leonard ("Ginx") Harrison (1870–1939) dozes with his head in Mellor’s lap next to his brother, the painter Lawrence ("Peter") Harrison (1866–1937). While the sensuality of the scene shows scant regard for contemporary propriety, viewers might have been shocked to learn that Palmer, the daughter of an American tycoon, was Peter Harrison’s longtime mistress. The utter relaxation of the group contrasts with Sargent’s alert observation. The cropped and foreshortened composition enhances the voyeuristic aspect of the scene. Viewed up close, broadly painted passages evoke the sense of dappled sunlight and dissolve into near abstraction.

Group with Parasols (Siesta), John Singer Sargent (American, Florence 1856–1925 London), Oil on canvas, American

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