This summer, Dulwich Picture Gallery will present the first major UK exhibition of watercolours by the Anglo-American artist, John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), in nearly 100 years.
Sargent: The Watercolours will bring together 80 works from arguably Sargent’s greatest period of watercolour production between 1900 and 1918.
Renowned as the leading portraitist of his generation, Sargent mastered the medium of watercolour during his painting expeditions to Southern Europe and the Middle East, where he developed a distinctive way of seeing and composing. Whilst these watercolours have often been dismissed as simple travel souvenirs, they were an integral part of Sargent’s artistic production.
Arranged thematically, the exhibition will showcase Sargent’s landscapes, architectural structures and figurative scenes. It will draw attention to the most radical aspects of his oeuvre, in particular his use of the close-up to focus attention on a specific motif, his unusual use of perspective and the arresting and dynamic poses of his figures. The show will also serve as a startling reminder of Sargent’s mastery of the visual complexities of light, the effects of which are present in almost every one of his works.
Richard Ormond, co-curator of the exhibition, said: “In Sargent’s watercolours we see his zest for life and his pleasure in the act of painting. The fluency and sensuality of his paint surfaces, and his wonderful command of light, never cease to astonish us. With this exhibition we hope to demonstrate Sargent’s mastery of the medium and the scale of his achievement.”
Sargent: The Watercolours will start 21 June and run until 8 October 2017.