Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Art Review - "Simplon Pass" by John Singer Sargent - National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

"Simplon Pass" • John Singer Sargent • 1911 • Oil on Canvas • 28 1/4" x 36 7/16”

This is one of the most famous landscapes ever painted by John Singer Sargent. For #MuseumTourTuesday, I'd like to share some of the closeup images Kimberly was able to capture during our visit to the National Gallery of Art last summer.

If you're curious about how texture can impact a painting, this piece by Sargent is a masterclass. Scroll through the images to see just how varied brushwork can be.

The painting is a stunning depiction of an Alpine pass in Switzerland near the border of Italy. Sargent masterfully captures the atmospheric quality of the scene, cooling the colors as they move back in space. The varied paint textures add to this sense of depth with thicker passages in the foreground and smoother larger masses in the background.
 
Notice in this detail of the foreground rocks just how thick the paint has been laid on in the highlights.
 
"Simplon Pass" Detail • John Singer Sargent • 1911 • Oil on Canvas • 28 1/4" x 36 7/16”
 
Further up the slope of the hill, the brushwork becomes more consistent in its application, yet still very dynamic.
 
"Simplon Pass" Detail • John Singer Sargent • 1911 • Oil on Canvas • 28 1/4" x 36 7/16”
 
The splashing water especially captures this play between the thick and thin paint. Notice the passages of cool blue pigment beneath the much thicker and stiffer warm white that sits on top, suggesting a beautiful sense of dimension.
 
"Simplon Pass" Detail • John Singer Sargent • 1911 • Oil on Canvas • 28 1/4" x 36 7/16”

Painting photos by Saunders Fine Arts.

© Patrick and Kimberly Saunders, Patrick Saunders Fine Arts, 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s authors/owners is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Patrick Saunders for painted works, or to Kimberly Saunders for photographs and/or videos, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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