Portrait of Miss Eliza Wedgewood
John Singer Sargent -- American
Watercolor and Pencil
53.5 x 36cm (21 x 14
signed and dedicated
for my friend Eliza
Miss Eliza Wedgwood is a member of
the famous porcelain manufacturing family, a personal friend of his sister
Emily and John and she accompanied them on some of their trips. John paints
her a number of times such as Miss Wedgwood & Miss Sargent, Sketching
(1908) and Mosquito Nets (1908).
But what I've grown to love so much
about John's water colors is the degree in which he can express so much
with an economy of strokes making his water colors just amazing. Portrait
of Miss Eliza Wedgewood is such a good example of this.
The following is taken from a personal
account of Mary Newbold Patterson Hale, a cousin of John's in Boston.
|To see one of Sargent's water colours
in the making always reminded me of the first chapter of Genesis, when
the evening and the morning were the first day, order developed from chaos,
and one thing after another was created of its kind. Having chosen his
subject and settled himself with the sunshade, hat and paraphernalia
all to his liking, he would make moan over the difficulty of the
subject and say, "I can't do it," or "It's unpaintable," and finally, "Well,
let's have a whack at it."
Perfect absorption would follow,
and after what looked like a shorthand formula in pencil was on the block,
the most risky and adventurous technique would come into play, great washes
of colour would go on the paper with huge brushes or sponges, and muttering
of "Demons! Demons!" or "The devils own!" would be heard at intervals.
All the time the picture was growing
surely, swiftly; he worked through to the end, only stopping when it was
a subject where light and tide changed before he could get it all in, and
two "goes" were necessary.
Mary Newbold Patterson Hale, The
World Today, November 1927
Sold at Sothebys; 12/3/1998, lot 49;
See the year in review 1905