In May 2007 I spent several days painting in Venice. I was fortunate enough to take in a superb exhibition of paintings of Venice by one of my favourite artists John Singer Sargent. The exhibition was held at the Museo Correr in St Mark’s Square.
John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) is said to be the most important of American Impressionists. He was born in Florence, another one of my favourite cities. Sargent spent most of his life in Europe, studying in Paris under Carolus-Duran and at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He began his career as a portrait painter producing outstanding portraits of the rich and famous of his day. His sitters included two American Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson.
He was a friend of Monet and began to experiment painting plein air undertaking a number of study trips. These included over 10 trips to Venice from 1870 to 1913. The exhibition at The Museo Correr consisted of 54 of these works loaned not only from European and American museums but also private collections. Subjects included famous land marks such as the scene above titled Cafe on the Riva degli Schiavoni. He also painted canals viewed from gondola rides, palaces, churches and daily life in Venice.
As I was doing this particular post, I couldn’t resist thumbing through my own “plein air” sketchbook watercolours of Venice to remind me of the Sargent exhibition. May he continue being an inspiration to many.