Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Art Review - "Mrs Joshua Montgomery Sears" by John Singer Sargent

Here's one more piece from the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston for today's #MuseumTourTuesday.

This one is a portrait by John Singer Sargent, painted at the height of his career. It's a beautifully executed painting in which I find the most interesting aspect is not the portrait proper, but rather the treatment of the flowers. Click through the images for more.

It's a beautifully balanced portrait. Everything is executed as efficiently as possible, and yet nothing feels under painted. Consider how easily the sitter's face might have been overwhelmed by the flowing brushwork of the dress or the flowers. Sargent uses the higher value contrast of the face against the darker background, along with a deeper saturation of color in the face, to pull our attention back to her portrait.

"Mrs Joshua Montgomery Sears" • Oil on Canvas • 1899 • 58.13" x 38.13"
 
The flowers are uncharacteristic of Sargent's other floral paintings. Whereas the artist usually renders the blooms in broad simplified shapes, here the flowers are more stylized. The thin line work is more similar to his watercolor work. This more graphic representation may have been intended to keep the focus on the face of the sitter.

"Mrs Joshua Montgomery Sears" • Oil on Canvas • 1899 • 58.13" x 38.13" Detail

Painting photos by Saunders Fine Arts.

© Patrick and Kimberly Saunders, Patrick Saunders Fine Arts, 2022. 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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