If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content
Current time:0:00Total duration:4:16

Video transcript

[Music] 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 it is a wonderful and haunting time of the day and sargent captured it in his painting carnation Lily Lily rose from 1885 to six the 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 forming a curving arabesque across the center 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 all we have is this really lush rich surface and there's nobody that moves paint across the surface of the canvas like Sargent and look 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 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 graying green forms of dots look at the way that the canvas is really flat clearly the influence of Japanese prints in the way in which for instance the flowers are small let's type 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 and so there is a conflation of nature and childhood and innocence and all of those things coming together it's just lovely and so 19th century 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 whites and we see this in British painting in the last half of the 19th century with artists like Albert Moore where the subject or the painting is the color harmony art for art's sake this is well into this movement that we know as aesthetic ISM which removes all of the literary all the weighty subjects of history and really make the painting and the beauty of the painting its main focus the formal qualities of the painting right 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 for 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 Sargent actually painted this plein air that is he painted at in a garden so he was also very interested in a tonal accuracy an accuracy of form even if in fact ultimately the painting is about painting apparently this was a bit of a frustration you know 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 the children are really concentrating on the lighting of their lanterns their thoughtfulness draws us in and allows us to linger over all of the beautiful visual lushness that the artist has given us [Music]