John Singer Sargent's Venetian Studies   (Frontpage)  (What's New)  (Thumbnails)  (Refer This Site)
Venetian Studies  
(1880 and 1882) 
(Click on paintings to step closer)

Sargentís Venitian Studies are some of his most effective and consequential paintings he ever did and are, for me, among my very favorites. His interest in Venice on his two trips in 1880 and then again in 1882, was much deeper and fair more subtle than most of his contemporaries who, by and large, were eager to paint the grand palces and canals and the stunning Saint Mark's  that most people associate with the city.  

Speaking Italian fluently, and having lived in the country (in and out during the family's trips) all his life, he could blend in  and no one would be the wiser. He could move like a native without notice down the back streets, shop the small markets, converse with workers, fishermen, merchants who were not directly part of the tourist trade. He had been studying closely the work of Velazquez and Frans Hals and he was excited by these two painters who would just reach right out and grab you by your coat-lapel and floor you with a reality that was deeper, truer, bolder, and more honest than anything generally seen at the Salon in Paris. 

No, Venice for Sargent would not be the usual suspects of opulent palaces and cathedrals. He had something much better in mind. He would take his intellect, the ability to blend with the natives, his skill and training; and he would cut with razor sharp perception right to the core of Venetian life. 

Each one of these paintings are very carefully planned and you can clearly see Sargent experimenting with what he hadbeen learning from Velazquez's Las Meninas of 1656. The use of depth excited him, and in each of these paintings he explores that idea. With Venetian Interior and A Street in Venice he specifically works with a secondary light source brighter than the primary at the far distance. Venetian Interior is the most complex with figures in different levels of perspective and in different shaddings of light. 

More to come


Venetian Interior, c. 1880-82 
(Click on respective paintings to step closer) 


A Venetian Interior, c. 1880-82 


A Street in Venice, c. 1880-82 


Venetian Street c. 1880-82 


Street in Venice, c. 1880-82 


Copyright 1998-2002 Natasha Wallace all rights reserved
Created 3/1999
Updated: 4/12/2002