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Lights and Shadows, Corfu
32 x 24 in.
Lights and Shadows, Corfu 
John Singer Sargent -- American painter 
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Watercolor on paper
61 x 76 cm ( 24 x 30 in)
The Hayden Collection, 12.207
jpg: MFA
(See interactive zoom at the MFA

"Sargent once confessed that enormous views and huge skies did not tempt him. Many of his outdoor watercolor sketches reflect this outlook, for he tended to focus on objects bathed in light and color rather than broad panoramic views. In this simple scene of a hut in the park of the royal villa, Monrepos, on Corfu, where he was staying in 1909, he was fascinated by the way the shadows from the branches of the olive tree at the upper left patterned the basic geometric shapes of the shaded and sunlit walls of the plain building. His palette is typically unnaturallistic; the shadows cast on the hut are painted in violet and ochre, the doorway in emerald green and blue, and the roof in a bright blue, while the undefined middle distance is suggested on the right by a mixture of  purple, pink and yellow. By cropping the building and tree that casts the shadow at the top of the sheet, Sargent increased the impact of the structure, which is  described in a very summary way, with white paper outlined with paint to create the aperture of the window  on the end wall."

(The following from the Museum but assumed to be orrginally from Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.)


Purchased from the artist through M. Knoedler, New York, April 4, 1912



From: Elise Anne Crowell 
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Date: Monday, March 22, 2004 

My favorite John Singer Sargent painting is Corfu:Lights and Shadows.  Even though I love his portraits, “Corfu” struck me in a very significant way.  The first time I saw it I was flipping through an art catalog.  I saw the picture and before I saw the caption I felt like I knew exactly where it was.  I had spent some time on the island of Crete, which is also a Greek isle and when I saw that little patch of blue that Sargent had painted to the right rear of the building I knew I was looking at the Aegean Sea.  The shadows painted on the building danced across the paint, and I felt that I was standing under the shade of a tree to escape the scorching heat.  I imagined that this little building was along the side of the road on the way to my hotel, an oasis of comfort from the sun, revealing a tease of the deepest blue-green sea behind it.  When I looked at the caption and saw that it was indeed a Greek island and painted by my favorite artist, I knew this would rise to the top of my favorite list immediately.

Enjoy!  Elise


By:  Natasha Wallace
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