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Group with Parasols (A Siesta)
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À propos de l'objet

Group with Parasols (A Siesta) is an aesthetically progressive and celebrated example of Sargent’s highly personal subject pictures inspired by his travels to the Alps.  Richard Ormond writes “there are few more dazzling tours de force by Sargent than Group with Parasols [A Siesta]” (Sargent Abroad: Figures and Landscapes, New York, 1997, p. 80).  Beginning in 1900, Sargent passed his holidays painting and traveling on the continent, often dividing his time between the Swiss Alps during the hot summer months and Italian cities such as Venice, Florence and Rome during the fall.  During this period, Sargent took as his models selected traveling companions and close family members, causing Mary Newbold Patterson Hale, Sargent’s second cousin, to refer to these paintings and watercolors as his “painted diaries.” This notion of a “painted diary” brilliantly conveys the very personal nature of Sargent’s relationship to his subjects and captures the underlying emotion that sets these pictures apart from much of his other work.  At the core of these paintings and studies is a startling intimacy that is casually seductive in both of its off-handedness and directness.\nSet free from the demands of portrait commissions, Sargent’s travels and summer interludes became increasingly important as a source of creative inspiration.  Preferring to paint the picturesque European scenery and his intimate group of friends and relatives to society portraiture with its sometimes stifling parameters, Sargent stopped accepting portrait commissions altogether by 1909.   During these Alpine tours, Sargent was often accompanied by his unmarried sister Emily, his sister Violet Ormond and her children and other Sargent family friends.  The 1905 trip to Giomein included Peter Harrison, his brother Leonard “Ginx” Harrison, Alma Strettell (Peter’s wife), Dos Palmer (Peter’s mistress), Polly Barnard and Lillian Mellor.  Sargent routinely spent the days in the countryside painting under the shade of large white umbrellas and in the evenings, enjoyed music, chess and reading with his entourage.  Sargent’s group frequently modeled for him on his sketching expeditions, and he enjoyed painting them in their idle moments of repose.  Mr. Ormond notes, “Sargent’s pictures of sleeping and resting figures, which are such a feature of his Alpine output over a ten year period, conjure up an imaginary world of luxuriant ease and passive indolence.  They are not a record of how the Sargent party spent their time in the mountains (active expeditions were the order of the day), but a deliberately invented world of dreamy reverie” (John Singer Sargent, Princeton, New Jersey, 1998, p. 244).\nGroup with Parasols (A Siesta) is a beautiful example of the ‘world of dreamy reverie’ and is evocative of the newfound intimacy in Sargent’s work.  The painting captures the Harrison brothers Peter and Ginx, Dos Palmer and Lillian Mellor enjoying a mid-afternoon slumber amid the grassy hills of the region.   The closeness of the figures, the fluid intertwining of limbs and the juxtaposition of male and female represents an unusual familiarity between the sexes that would have challenged Victorian convention.  Mr. Ormond writes, “There is a deliberate contrast between the two sides of the composition, softly rounded contours and delicate materials for the women, angular knees, elbows and creased trousers for the men.  At the same time the rhythm of the curving bodies, arms, and heads unites the figures in a tightly interlocking group” (John Singer Sargent, p. 244).  Ilene Susan Fort notes that the Alpine Pictures “display contradictions in time, gender orientation, and degree of sexuality that can be understood only within the social context of the age.  Sargent was a personality not only aesthetically progressive but also socially bohemian; his opinions and taste were sometimes at odds with, and too modern for, the strictest Victorian society” (Sargent in Italy, Princeton, New Jersey, 2003, p. 142).\nThe intimacy of the subjects is further emphasized by the essentially closed composition in which the surrounding landscape is closely cropped and bordered. Ms. Fort observes, “Sargent placed his models in an intimate and virtually anonymous outdoor environment, thereby creating the notion of a ‘landscape interior.’  He repeatedly depicted a small forest glade that marked the boundaries of his personal domain.  By cropping and deleting horizons, Sargent made the landscape appear to be pushed forward, parallel to the picture plane.  His models exist in this limited space with no suggestion of a world beyond the painted scene” (Sargent in Italy, p. 148).  The intimate subject and setting of Group with Parasols (A Siesta) was revisited in several watercolors of the period, including the strikingly similar Siesta, also of 1905 (figure 1) and Simplon Pass: The Green Parasol (figure 2).\nA strong component of the unusual visual effects the painting produces lies in Sargent’s treatment of the picture's surface, its heavy application and active handling of paint create a richly patterned composition punctuated by highlights of dappled light and sunlit passages.  Mr. Ormond writes, “The brushwork has a dynamic energy and a life of its own so that the picture could be read as blocks of colour or patterns of light and dark, independent of the forms which they describe.  This is where the modernity of Sargent’s vision lies, in the suppression of detail, and in the concentration on surface texture and expressive brushstroke” (Richard Ormond, John Singer Sargent, p. 244).\nMs. Fort writes, “The Alpine paintings sit outside Sargent’s usual work, evincing neither the painterly academism of his portraits nor the full Impressionism of his landscape and figure paintings created in Broadway, England…The Alpine works as a whole do evince a new, more progressive boldness, particularly in design, that demonstrates a daring level of experimentation.”  (Sargent in Italy, p. 141)  Group with Parasols (A Siesta) is at once the artistic embodiment of Sargent’s daring  style, conjuring the pictorial effects of light and shadow for which he is so well known, and a uniquely compelling and intimate look into the artist’s inner circle.\nInscribed to my friend Ginx and signed John S. Sargent, l.r.
US
NY, US
US

medium

Oil on canvas

creator

John Singer Sargent

dimensions

21 3/4 by 28 in.

exhibition

London, England, Royal Academy of Arts, Exhibition of the Works of the Late John S. Sargent, R.A., Winter 1926, no. 3 (possibly) London, England, Royal Academy of Arts, British Paintings since Whistler, 1940, no. 460 Brooklyn, New York, The Brooklyn Museum; Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts, Phillips Academy, American Painting: Selections from the Collection of Daniel and Rita Fraad, June-November 1964, no. 30, p. 38, illustrated in color, also illustrated in color on the cover New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, Art of the United States: 1670-1966, September-November 1966, no. 246, pp. 69, 153, illustrated p. 69 New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 100th Anniversary of Impressionism, December 1974-February 1975 Fort Worth, Texas, Amon Carter Museum, American Paintings, Watercolors, and Drawings from the Collection of Rita and Daniel Fraad, May-July 1985, no. 15, pp. 34-6, illustrated in color p. 35 London, England, The Tate Gallery; Washington, D.C., The National Gallery of Art; Boston, Massachusetts, Museum of Fine Arts, John Singer Sargent, October 1998-September 1999, no. 135, pp. 221, 244, illustrated p. 245

literature

Evan Charteris, John Sargent, New York, 1927, p. 295 David McKibbin, Sargent’s Boston: with an Essay & a Biographical Summary & a complete Check List of Sargent’s Portraits, Boston, Massachusetts, 1956, p. 100 Charles Merrill Mount, John Singer Sargent: A Biography, New York, 1955, no. K 1216, p. 451 Richard Ormond, John Singer Sargent: Paintings, Drawings & Watercolors, New York, 1970, p. 75 James Lomax and Richard Ormond, John Singer Sargent and the Edwardian Age, London, 1979, p. 97 John Singer Sargent, New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, 1986, illustrated in color p. 203, fig. 162 Doreen Bolger and Nicolai Cikovsky, Jr., eds., American Art Around 1900: Lectures in Memory of Daniel Fraad, Hanover, New Hampshire, 1990, pp. 29-39, illustrated in color p. 28 (detail), illustrated p. 40 Warren Adelson, Donna Seldin Janis, Elaine Kilmurray, Richard Ormond and Elizabeth Oustinoff, Sargent Abroad: Figures and Landscapes, New York, 1997, pp. 54, 80, illustrated in color p. 81 Sargent and Italy, Los Angeles, California, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2003, p. 154, illustrated in color pp. 150-51

provenance

Sale: Christie, Manson & Woods, London, England, Pictures and Water Colour Drawings by J.S. Sargent, R.A. and Works by Other Artists, July 27, 1925, lot 194 Leonard Fred Harrison, London, England, 1926 Wilfred G. de Glehn, London, England A. Richards, London (sold: Sotheby & Co., London, England, December 13, 1961, lot 128) John Nicholson Gallery, New York (acquired at the above sale) Hirschl & Adler Galleries, New York Acquired from the above, 1962

signedDate

Inscribed to my friend Ginx and signed John S. Sargent, l.r.


*Merci de noter que le prix n'est pas recalculé à la valeur actuelle, mais se rapporte au prix final réel au moment où l'objet a été vendu.

*Merci de noter que le prix n'est pas recalculé à la valeur actuelle, mais se rapporte au prix final réel au moment où l'objet a été vendu.


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