Art Institute of
52.1 cm (15 1/2 x 20 1/2
Shaler Swan Collection
Jpg: local source
In the first study to
the right, you can see men hauling ropes up the side of mountain
steps. This is
similar to the watercolor Carrara, Lizzatori I (though you
see the men very well in the thumbnail). In that painting, the men are
up the steps.
workmen who apparently are called "lizzatori", cut the huge blocks and
manually tie them
with these massive hemp ropes, using what I
to be block-and-tackle with wrenches along with sheer brute force to
haul, drag, pull these immense stones down the mountain.
In Sargent’s series
you can clearly sense the harsh climate they are working in. Bringing
down Marble (above) is one of only two known oils, you can see the
down Marble from the Quarries to Carrar
between the angular, unforgiving rock, to the
pliable bodies, ropes,
and clothing. In Carrara: Monsieur
Derville's Quarry (left),
see the devouring sun beating down diluting all shades of color to a
monocrome tonal-range. In Carrara: A Quarry (lower
four men chip away at a massive block on a plateau of the imposing
in the lower part of the painting. Their bodies
are nearly lost and only
smudges of brown, the far right
man using some sort of pole as leverage to shift the massive rock. We
them insignificant in their jagged world. Annette Blaugrund,
in her essay called
“Sunshine Captured . . .” says that the paintings done at Carrara show
Sargent working in a tour de force of watercolor techniques from
wiping out, and waxing, used in combination with gouache and
layering to achieve
effects of sunlight
on stone” (p.
231, JSS, Patricia Hills book)
Monsieur Derville's Quarry
As I view these
images I’m reminded
of my own trips to the southwest of the United States, the sort of
dry, rocky paths up small mountains (really nothing more than large
I remember the sun would very much wash everything out.
Looking at these
images you can almost
hear the crunch
of gravel under boot, the ping of steel chisels cutting away chips of
earth, the groan of
taut around wooden creaking wrenches, and
the reluctant guttural moan -- stone against stone -- of boulders
from eternal slumber; and if you look close enough, take the time to
the world that Sargent saw, you can almost taste the gritty stone-dust
between your teeth, feel the burn of sun on your skin, and the soaked
bandana hanging heavy around your neck.
I think I need a
glass of water.
An Exhibition -- Whitney
Museum, NY & The Art Institute of Chicago 1986-1987
Date: Friday, December
Complimenti per il suo
La prego di darmi ogni
indicazione sulle opere di Sargent che hanno riguardato le cave di
di Carrara (Italia) ed eventuali informazioni sul suo soggiorno a
So di chiederLe
molto e Le sarÃ²
infinitamente grato. Stiamo preparando una conferenza su Sargent a
e abbiamo bisogno di tutti i libri e di tutte le notizie relative.
quindi, disponibili ad acquistare le sue ed altre pubblicazioni in
Grazie infinite e
Buone Feste dalla
Marmo e della Scultura.
Manzoni, 5 54033
Compliments for a
I pray that you might be able to give an indication to me on the works
of Sargent that regard the quarry of marble of Carrara (Italy) and any
information on his stay at Carrara. I know this is asking a lot but
be infinitely grateful.
We are preparing
a conference on
Sargent for Carrara and have need of all the books and all the relevant
information so that we can acquire these and other publications of
and Happy Festivities
from the city of Marble and Sculpture.
Manzoni, 5 54033
CARRARA (MS) ITALY]
Very little is
known, that I know
anyway, WHY Sargent choose Carrara and the marble quarry for what would
be one of the most tightly grouped series of paintings that he would
There is, of
course, the Venetian
Studies of pedestrian scenes and the paintings and drawings during
the war in France in
1918. There is the series of mountain scenes in the alps over a
of years, but Carrara really stands out as the tightest grouping of
in a theme that Sargent ever did.
What do I know
about them? Very little.
Sargent apparently loved the lighting, and I think he expressed that to
someone but I have gone through my literature here (of what I have
and I can't find were I read that. In fact, two of the main
Singer Sargent, His Portrait'; St. Martin's Press, New York, 1886;
and Evan Charteris' 'John Sargent'; Benjamin Blom, Inc, New York, 1925
both maddeningly scarcely mention Carrara
Much of the
Carrara, that I can find, spend all their time on personal
and reiteration in words what Sargent painted on paper and canvas
-- a practice that is often done by art historians -- as if you needed
to be told what you are looking at -- I did it even -- I think it is
all they can do
when apparently we know so little about the WHY he went there, WHERE he
stayed, WHAT his intent was etc.
There isn't any
particular book that
doesn't give more than just a couple of pictures of his Carrara work.
Figures and Landscapes', Abbeville Press, New York, London and
1997 only show the two oils and one photograph.
I don't know how
much time you have,
but your best bet would be to get in touch with Richard Ormond (a
descendent of Sargent's family) but unfortunately, I don't know how to
do that. Maybe through Yale University Press which publishes a lot of
books or through Adelson
Galleries which knows how to get a hold of him.
Sargent made two
oil paintings of
the Carrara quarry:
Then something like 17
watercolors that are incredibly powerful in their skill.
Many of the
watercolors are at the
Fine Arts Museum in Boston. The Fogg Art Museum, at Harvard also has a
number of sketches -- I would contact both of those institutions