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Rehearsal of the Pasdeloup Orchestra at the Cirque d'Hiver

John Singer Sargent American

Not on view

This study of a rehearsal of Jules-Étienne Pasdeloup’s orchestra at the Cirque d’Hiver is one of very few depictions that Sargent made of contemporary city life. The Cirque d’Hiver (formerly known as the Cirque Napoléon) is a small, ornate amphitheater in the 11th arrondissement of Paris, where Pasdeloup inaugurated his concerts populaires of classical music in 1861. Pasdeloup’s program was adventurous, promoting recent French symphonic works and Richard Wagner’s music, and his policy of affordable seating helped to attract new audiences.
Sargent merges the visual and aural experience of the concert by eliminating anecdotal detail and using a grisaille palette to create a soft focus in the arena. The repetitive rectangles of the white sheet music and the glint of light on the musical instruments punctuate the composition.

Rehearsal of the Pasdeloup Orchestra at the Cirque d'Hiver, John Singer Sargent (American, Florence 1856–1925 London), Oil on canvas, American

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