My wife, Laurel, and I visited a special Sargent exhibit at the Corcoran in DC today and she snapped the photo (on the left) of me admiring one of my favorite large Sargent portraits.
I didn’t measure it, but I guess it is about 4 feet wide and about 8 feet tall. I believe the figure is about 5 1/4 feet tall, which is about life size. There is alot of background around the figure. I have never made a painting this large but I am looking forward to the day when I have a client with large enough walls and pocket book to commission such a work!
The exhibit is primarily landscapes and the key landscape painting (below) in the exhibit is really very beautiful. The work is small for Sargent….I would say about 26×34″. The composition is wonderful. There is a lot of contrast of darks and lights, as well as warm and cool paint colors in the focal area. There is an S pattern of figures that leads the eye through the work. The figures are walking so their is a sense of movement. It is not highly finished. The edges are mostly soft and there are visible brush strokes everywhere.
This appears to be an unposed, real, moment captured in time. Look at the little boy fixing his pants. Sargent painted this in the studio. A work of this level could not be painted on site with the light changing every few minutes, not to mention the fact the the people were moving! Sargent was an avid photographer and I believe that he created this painting using his photos as resource material.
In any case, go see the exhibit if you can. Thanks to Sargent, I have been inspired and I’m ready to go back to work on my own paintings with a fresh perspective!