Spanish Gypsy Dancer – John Singer Sargent

Spanish Gypsy Dancer by John Singer Sargent
Alan Reed’s copy of Spanish Gypsy Dancer by John Singer Sargent

Last week I was hand delivering an original painting in Glasgow. I decided to check out a couple of paintings by John Singer Sargent which are part of the Glasgow Museum‘s collection, Mrs George Batten singing and Sir David Richmond. Both are outstanding portraits, very much typical of Sargent’s repetoire. Seeing them close up gave me a deeper appreciation of his expressive brush strokes and masterful use of a limited palatte. I hope to feature these paintings in a future blog post about Sargent’s work but for now I’ve decided to feature a recent oil painting study I made of John Singer Sargent’s Spanish Gypsy Dancer.

There are two known versions of this sketch by Sargent, both of which can be seen in the magnificent book ” 1874-1882″ by Richard Ormond and Elaine Kilmurray. I decided to make an observational oil painting study of the less finished of the two paintings, both of which were approximately 18″ x 11″. I painted mine slightly smaller, oil on board, using a similar limited palette to Sargent and the same observational methods. Sargent himself was known to have made his own copies of several of the great masters including Velazquez and Frans Hals. It’s a very helpful way to help discover the painting techniques that some of the finest painters have used which one can then adapt on one’s own pieces. Very little has been written about Sargent’s painting methods, however by looking closely at his brush marks and reading some of the sitting accounts written by his clients, one can get a good idea of how he worked. I will elaborate on this when I have more of my own examples to explain more clearly.

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