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Sargent and Italy
Edited by Bruce Robertson
Essays by Jane Dini, Ilene Susan Fort, Stephanie L. Herdrich, R. W. B. Lewis, and Richard Ormond

Paperback | 2008 | This edition is out of print | ISBN: 9780691139449
Hardcover | 2003 | This edition is out of print | ISBN: 9780691113289

Reviews

This extravagantly illustrated catalogue--published in association with a major exhibition--evokes the romantic fascination with Italy that glimmers in the work of John Singer Sargent.

Sargent, heralded on both sides of the Atlantic, was one of the most creative American artists of the late nineteenth century. Born in Florence to American parents living abroad, he retained a deep and lifelong connection to the country famed for its ability to get "ineradicably in one's blood." Sargent vacationed frequently in Italy, and most of the works he created there were painted not for commission but out of his artistic passion for Italy's people, land, and culture. Often hauntingly powerful, they range from dramatically painted genre scenes of Italian peasants and saturated landscapes that celebrate the beauty of the Italian countryside to portraits of other Anglo-American expatriates and tourists, including Henry James and Edith Wharton.

The majority of works are of Italian sites, including well-known tourist spots but also the quieter, more isolated locales that Sargent sought out. His subjects include magnificent Italian gardens with their ancient and Baroque statuary, Rome's Neoclassical and Renaissance buildings, urban street scenes, the Italian Alps, and, of course, Venetian canals. Sargent found Venice particularly alluring, and the city well suited the watercolor medium in which he worked most often in Italy. His use of vivid colors, brushwork that varied from soft and fluid to bold and dashing, and an overwhelming sense of light and air characterize his Italian scenes--and rank Sargent as one of the finest watercolorists of all time. His later Italian works, some in watercolor and others in oil, reveal an artist who relished his materials and made art purely for art's sake. Both beautiful and informative, this lavish volume includes eighty-five color and fifty black-and-white images. It adds a new dimension to our appreciation of Sargent's art and will delight anyone who loves Italy, as Sargent so passionately did.

Review:

"Sargent became one of the most international American artists of his day, shuttling around Italy, France, England, and the United States, but he knew Italy most intimately. . . . [He] hated the dull routine of society portraiture, and his Italian trips--painting peasants in Capri, Venetian bead stringers, Alpine brooks--refreshed him."--Katherine Zoepf, New York Times Book Review

"[Sargent's] synthesis of the classic and the contemporary plays with light and shadow to create a shimmering sensuality. . . . [He] seemed to revel in the freedom which watercolors provide, and it is tempting to see these later Italian works as a release of sorts from the murals and high-toned portraits. . . . [T]hese paintings, of gardens, quarries, cypresses, and of his family and friends on holiday, convey a powerful sense of that liberation."--Michael Carlson, Times Literary Supplement

"Extremely well written and filled with magnificent reproductions, this beautiful volume offers the first in-depth and original study of this great artist in many years."--Booklist

"Beautiful and informative. . . . Italy was extremely influential on Sargent's work, which makes this a significant addition to book son Sargent."--Library Journal

"With each new book on the ever-popular John Singer Sargent, readers learn more about the substantive complexities of an artist too often dismissed as simply a fashionable portraitist. The attraction of this appealing book . . . is the opportunity it affords for scholarly focus on a key aspect of Sargent's career."--Choice

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Published in association with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art

File created: 4/17/2014

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