Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Art Review - "Helen Sears" by John Singer Sargent

No one can deny the ability of John Singer Sargent to create a beautiful portrait, and this piece is no exception, but that's not what captured my attention with this particular painting from the first moment I saw it. Yes, the face, the hair, the dress are all beautifully rendered with bravura brushwork, but it's the flowers that I'm drawn toward.

The large masses of hydrangeas are so simply painted, yet read perfectly. The flowers work for a number of reasons, starting with the way Sargent directs our eyes to the face, keeping the flowers in our peripheral vision. At a glance, they appear to be highly rendered. Sargent focuses on what's important - the outer edges of the masses and the value scale overall, never the individual petals. This illusion of detail is what I find so fascinating in his work, and when I was first exposed to this painting decades ago, this was a great learning experience for me.

This piece is in the permanent collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

"Helen Sears" • John Singer Sargent • Oil on Canvas • 1895 • 65.86" x 35.98"

Painting photo 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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