Bringing Down Marble from the Quarries to Carrara

Artist: John Singer Sargent (American, Florence 1856–1925 London)

Date: 1911

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 28 1/8 x 36 1/8 in. (71.4 x 91.8 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1917

Accession Number: 17.97.1


Sargent consolidated many on-the-spot studies of workers into this depiction of the grueling labor, conducted without modern technology, at the historic Italian quarries. He suggests scale within the massive landscape in his placement of the workers at opposite ends of the ropes— stretched diagonally across the composition— used to lower marble blocks from the quarry. A friend described the artist’s devotion to the subject: "[Sargent] slept for weeks in a hut so completely devoid of all ordinary comforts that his companions, far younger men, fled after a few days, unable to stand the Spartan rigors tolerated by their senior with such serene indifference."