Art of the Americas to World War I
Course: Art of the Americas to World War I > Unit 7Lesson 6: American Aestheticism and the Gilded Age
- Whistler, Symphony in White, No. 1: The White Girl
- Whistler, Nocturne in Black and Gold, the Falling Rocket
- Whistler, Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket
- Sargent, Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose
- John Singer Sargent, Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose
- Sargent, Madame X (Madame Pierre Gautreau)
- Sargent, El Jaleo
- Sargent, The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit
- Celebrating America's place in the world
Sargent, Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose
John Singer Sargent, Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose, 1885-86, oil on canvas, 1740 x 1537 mm (Tate Britain, London). Created by Beth Harris and Steven Zucker.
Want to join the conversation?
- Are these Sargent's children? Or are they just models?(6 votes)
- No they are not Sargent's children. They are the children of his artist friend Fred Barnard.
(Source: The Greater Journey - Americans in Paris by David McCullough)(16 votes)
- How do they make the light look so real?(3 votes)
- The illusion of light is largely created by value. If you are interested in having an education like Sargent I would recommend finding an Atelier to study at. Many of them have been appearing throughout the US.(3 votes)
- John Singer Sargent was an American and formally trained in Paris--what makes his artwork distinctly "Late Victorian"?(2 votes)
- Late Victorian is a period of time, the late 1800's to the very early 1900's. This is in reference to Queen Victoria's Reign from 1837 - 1901.
Also while John Singer Sargent traveled throughout the world he lived his life and died in the United Kingdom which is why some people consider his work as distinctly part of the Late Victorian Era in the United Kingdom. At the same time many of his portraits were completed for Americans and are housed in American museums and those paintings are considered part of America's Gilded Age.(2 votes)
- How was there so much Japanese influence during this time?(2 votes)
- At about the 2 minute mark the conversation delves into things like there being no real subject matter to this painting; that shapes and patterns and colors are the main focus (as if artists through the ages hadn't concerned themselves with those properties). From the positioning of the two girls, to the skill and attention placed on their expressions and demeanor, I think that the subject matter of this painting was very important to Sargent. Are the speakers not jumping-the-gun on Abstraction-ism and not using the term "Art for Art Sake" correctly?(1 vote)
- The discussion of Aestheticism represents the position of the artist and critics of the time. We may look at the canvas now and see a narrative, but by the standards of the late 19th century in England, this painting was radical in the way it rejected narrative for a more purely aesthetic experience.(3 votes)
- What are they putting in the lanterns to make them glow?(1 vote)
- I've worked on art since i was four years old, and i still stink!! I wish i was a fraction as good as these people. i need some easy art tips from anyone, please.(1 vote)
- If you just want to paint and draw more realistically expensive paper, pencils and paints help a lot. Besides that there are plenty of websites teaching all kinds of skills and techniques.(1 vote)
STEVEN ZUCKER: The fading light of the sun is being replaced by the lanterns being held by these children. It is that moment at twilight when artificial light just begins to assert itself against the light of the day. BETH HARRIS: It is a wonderful and haunting time of the day. And Sargent captured it in his painting "Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose," from 1885 to 1886. STEVEN ZUCKER: That title is pretty poetic. And the repetition in the title really gives us a sense of the idea of repetition of form and light throughout this painting. Look at the way that the Japanese lanterns move from left to right across the middle of this canvas. BETH HARRIS: Forming a curving arabesque across the center. STEVEN ZUCKER: They're almost like the notes that you would find in a musical score. And we do read across. But of course, our eye also stops because there's so much that's beautiful to look at here. BETH HARRIS: All we have is this really lush, rich surface. STEVEN ZUCKER: There's nobody that moves paint across the surface of the canvas like Sargent. And how he's just moved that brush across the surface in rendering those roses or the carnations down towards the bottom, or even the ridges of the lanterns themselves, and the way in which those blue shadows play against the beautiful, warm, illumination from within. BETH HARRIS: It's interesting because the parts of a painting that you would expect to be illuminated are not. Everything is drenched in dusk. You look to the faces of the children for where they would be illuminated, where you might see the expression on a child's face, but he hasn't concentrated his attention there. His attention is dispersed across this decorative surface. The parts that are illuminated are these lanterns against this graying, green forms of dusk. STEVEN ZUCKER: Look at the way that the canvas is really flat-- clearly, the influence of Japanese prints. The way in which, for instance, the flowers are smallest at the feet of the children. And then as we move up to those large lilies, they rise. And that's directly in opposition to the way that paintings would normally be constructed. And it has the effect of making the background come forward. BETH HARRIS: And so there is a conflation of nature and childhood and innocence, and all of those things coming together. It's just lovely. STEVEN ZUCKER: And so 19th century. BETH HARRIS: So we have a painting that lacks any kind of a real subject except for the quality of light and color harmonies-- these greens and peaches and pinks and white. And we see this in British painting in the last half of the 19th century with artists like Albert Moore, where the subject of the painting is the color harmony, art for art's sake. STEVEN ZUCKER: This is well into this movement that we know as aestheticism, which removes all of the literary, all of the weighty subjects of history, and really make the painting and the beauty of the painting its main focus. BETH HARRIS: And the formal qualities of the painting, shapes, patterns, colors, those are the things that become most important. We could think about artists also like Whistler. And it's easy to see how this becomes important to the beginnings of abstraction, looking at art not for what it's representing, not for the objects it's copying from the world, but for the things that art is made of itself. STEVEN ZUCKER: Sargent actually painted this plein air. That is, he painted it in a garden. So he was also very interested in tonal accuracy and accuracy of form, even if, in fact, ultimately the painting is about painting. And apparently this was a bit of a frustration. Painting outside with models is not an easy thing, especially when you've got children, and dusk is such a fleeting moment. And so one could imagine him in England, in this garden, really trying to keep everybody's attention, making sure that the weather is right, making sure that the light is just right, and trying to get all of this down. BETH HARRIS: The children are really concentrating on the lighting of their lanterns. STEVEN ZUCKER: Their thoughtfulness draws us in and allows us to linger over all of the beautiful, visual, lushness that the artist has given us.