This painting is a wonderful mix of drawing, watercolor, and oil. It was done from what appears to be his hotel room in Genoa, Italy, overlooking the bay with a clutter of boats at anchor in the harbor. You can almost smell the salt air and hear the sounds of the boats in this picture. He uses his paintbox propped open to hold back the curtain and we see his portfolio left open in the chair.
The painting is quite beautiful and is a bit unusual, though not altogether unprecedented. From time to time we are given glimpses of his lodgings on his travels such as:
and . . .
Here, he paints his artist friend Ambrogio Raffele in his hotel room which is used as a studio. The bed and desk double as an easel to prop up a large canvas dwarfing the room. You can't help but smile as you come to realize that both men are amusingly cramped into this small space; and Sargent is painting a painter painting.
A good chunk of his life
in hotels, or as guests of patrons and friends. It was nothing for him
to live out of suitcases and material objects were relatively
to him. And it would be from his nomadic lifestyle, partly, that
he would always claim to others that he was half gypsy.
ExhibitionsJohn Singer Sargent, An Exhibition -- Whitney Museum, NY & The Art Institute of Chicago 1986-1987
By: Natasha Wallace
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