Sargent and Spain is an exhibition and catalog focusing on the artwork that John Singer Sargent produced in Spain over many decades of his career.
He always had a goal or objective in mind for each of his seven excursions to Spain. The exhibition is organized according to these thematic studies. The first goal was to capture the spirit of the flamenco dance in the big Salon painting El Jaleo.
The original painting, now at the Gardiner Art Museum in Boston, did not travel to Washington, DC for the show, but it appears prominently in the catalog.
Sargent managed to capture fleeting expressions of fast-moving figures in dim light.
Sargent would undertake some impressively difficult perspective challenges, or scenes with complex layers of details. His precise pencil preliminary drawings underlie even casual looking sketches.
Spanish Fountain, 1912, watercolor and gouache over pencil
It’s interesting to see how Sargent wove white gouache into his watercolor practice. The sprays of water coming out of the fountain are a thin drybrush line over previously painted passages.
Also, the caustic reflections on the underside of the bowl of the fountain are accomplished with opaque passages of gouache.
The exhibition at the National Gallery in Washington will be on view through tomorrow, and then it continues at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Legion of Honor (February 11–May 14, 2023)
If you visit the National Gallery, don’t miss the eight additional Sargents in the American galleries, including several of his full size portraits.