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  • John Singer Sargent
    Jan 12, 1856 - Apr 14, 1925
  • Sierra Nevada - John Singer Sargent was an American painter by birth-right, and a leading portrait painter of his era. He loved his country yet he spent most of his life in Europe. He was the most celebrated portraitist of his time but left it at the very height of his fame to devote full time to landscape painting, water colors and public art.
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  • John Singer Sargent
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  • 1912
    Oil on canvas
    55.88 cm (22 in.) x 64.77 cm (25.5 in.)
    Amgueddfa Cymru, Cardiff, United Kingdom.

    Hills and mountains roll out across the canvas. The green hill of the foreground is dotted with goats, their faces turned away and looking out at the view. To the left, the hill descends into yellow, more brown and green defining the mountains further away. A blue sky opens above the horizon, white snow-capped mountains in the distant background.

    What does it mean?

    We’re coming back to landscape, my friends! What better time to spend some time looking at a beautiful, peaceful view of the outdoors, right?

    I remember coming across this in Wales and having a sense of recognition. I’m from the Western US, and something about the scene felt weirdly familiar. The camp that I work at also has a strange obsession that I cannot explain with goats, so I was immediately drawn to them at first. Yes, I sent a picture of this painting to a friend just because it had goats in it. Moving on.

    After exclaiming (mostly in my head and maybe only a little bit of audible squealing) at the goats, I kept looking as I noticed the depth that the artist had created. The use of light and shadow emphasize the space between each mountain peak, even though we are able to see so many of them in this one point of view. The colors create layers of plants and life that were painted in brushy, indistinct gestures so as to make them unidentifiable. The yellow hills to the left have tiny trees or shrubs, so small and far away to appear insignificant. On the other hand, the mountains almost feel more imposing with the greater distance between us and them.

    The goats that litter the foreground primarily look away from us the viewer, and the few that look back lack eyes or specific facial expression to imply how we are viewed. As the viewer, are we invading the space of these goats in the mountains? Are we welcome additions to the space? Are they indifferent to our presence, to that of the artist? I like to think they are a little indifferent based on the distance between our viewpoint and the goats as subjects. But I also hope there was at least one goat who tried to eat some of the canvas or other materials Sargent had with him while sketching or even painting this canvas outside, en plein air.

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  • from United States.
  • IT is okay. The one you send will probably be even better. Either way we like it. Thank you so much!! Barbara

Other paintings by John Singer Sargent:

Spanish Dancer
Spanish Dancer
Horses at Palma 1908
Horses at Palma 1908
Scuola di San Rocco
Scuola di San Rocco
White Ships
White Ships
John Singer SargentJohn Singer Sargent was a painter especially known for his fine portraits. He is usually considered an American artist, although he spent most of his life in Europe. Sargent was born in Florence, Italy to USA parents. He studied in Italy and Germany, and then in Paris under Carolus Duran.

His portraits are remarkable for subtly capturing the individuality and personality of the sitters; his most ardent admirers think he is equaled in this only by Velázquez. Sargent's Portrait of Madame X (Madame Pierre Gautreau), done in 1884, is now considered one of his finest works, but it aroused so much negative reaction in Paris at the time that it prompted Sargent to move to London.

Although Sargent spent less than one year in the United States, some of his finest work is there, especially his decorations for the Boston Public Library. Sargent is usually not considered an impressionist, but he sometimes used impressionistic techniques to great effect, and his Claude Monet Painting at the Edge of a Wood is beautifully rendered in an impressionist style.

Around 1910 Sargent largely abandoned portraits, focusing mostly on landscapes in his later years.

In an era when the mainstream of art was focused on Impressionism and emphasizing artistic individuality, Sargent emphasized his own form of Realism and regularly worked doing commissioned portraits of the rich. This caused him to be dismissed as an anachronism at the time, but appreciation of him as a great artist has grown since his death.