Friday, May 18, 2018

John Singer Sargent's Gassed Painting

If you live in or near Kansas City, Missouri, you have the opportunity right now to view John Singer Sargent's masterpiece "Gassed." The painting is on loan to the National World War I Museum and Memorial from the Imperial War Museum in London and is absolutely stunning in person.

The painting is over 20' in width, and having only viewed the piece in small print reproductions, I was knocked out by all of the elements that I never noticed before, such as the soccer game taking place behind the main figures, and numerous biplanes flying throughout the sky.

Through the use of temperature changes in the figures (and the ropes to the right), Sargent suggests that there are a number of tents to our right, and only a shaft of light shines through and illuminates the scene. In the background, however, the soccer game is in full sunlight.

Also, nowhere in the painting are we confronted with the eyes of any of the figures. I get the sense that Sargent was conveying the public blindness to the true horror of the war. The injured are moved into the shadows, while the uninjured go about their normal routine.

© Patrick and Kimberly Saunders, Patrick Saunders Fine Arts, 2018. 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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