Monday, November 15, 2010

Sargents hero

Everybody has heroes, John Sargents hero was Velazquez (1599-1660). He inherited that fondness from his teacher Carolus-Duran. In fact Duran used his own recreation of Velazquez's methods as the basis for the curriculum in his atelier. Velazquez was a Spanish court painter who painted the denizens of the court of Philip IV. The painting above is the Daughters of Edwin Boit, which lives in the Boston Museum which also owns the two enormous blue and white vases in the painting. The painting bears more than a passing resemblance to the Velazquez's masterpiece below, Las Meninas.

Above is Aesop, painted by Velazquez, and below a full sized copy of the head by Sargent. Sargent didn't slave over the painting and make an exact copy but did this in order to study the original.
Sargent was studying the way that Velazquez expressed the forms in this head. The planar structure that Sargent used so well was derived from his study of the great Spaniard.

Above is a Velaquez and below a Sargent. Notice how the thought process is similar. Most painters choose a hero in their learning process and make an in depth study of that artist. Who is your painting hero?


Announcing a three day workshop to be held in Charleston, South Carolina. It will be fun to meet those of you who read this blog from the low country. As usual the workshop is open to all levels of experience and will run from Saturday, December 11 until Monday the 13th. I will teach outside and will demonstrate in the morning and then run from easel to easel teaching for the afternoon. I can save you years of screwing around learning to paint outside.
Here is the link to sign up. Class size is limited to 10 and given the short notice on this one might be very small indeed. People are starting to sign up, so reserve your spot.


Ray Hassard said...

This past spring I was in the Prado in Madrid and to my surprise, there were the Boit daughters in the Velazquez wing. They had a special exhibit of the two paintings side by side--what a sight! My art hero used to be Sargent, but now he has to share the space with Sorolla. THanks for all your blogs, but especially this series on Sargent!

Gregory Becker said...

My hero is Wendy Artin. She is a watercolorist living in Rome. I have kept in touch with her via email. She has seen my work, offers advice, and expresses curiosity in my working techniques. I am fortunate to be able to engage in conversation with her. Her sense of light is the most remarkable trait in her work aside from an exceptional ability to draw and one day I hope to meet her and study with her.

Mary Byrom said...

Another in a great series of posts Stapleton! This hero stuff is very interesting. I've never had "one"... Do you know...who was Sorolla's hero? Who was Zorn's hero?

billspaintingmn said...

Heros, well there are a lot of them.
The list keeps growing.
You almost have to be a 'kid' to have a hero.
As an adult, heros sometimes pale. Maybe because you realize they are human and the real admiration is their journey, not their acheivments.
Yet their acheivments are a product of their journey.

All of my heros are doing, or have done 'the trip!'

Faith said...

My hero used to be Sargent also, but now I have grown to love and really admire Michael Deas and Alfredo Rodriguez. Do you think it is better if our heroes are the old masters, Mr. Kearns? Does it matter?

Loving the posts on Sargent.

Kyle V Thomas said...

Sargent was my first hero. I discovered him art school. Then came Sarolla(my first master copy). Then I have Andrew Wyeth(more the why, then the how)
I love many artists, living and dead, but I continually(practically daily) look to these three artists. It is Sargent and Wyeth that get my greatest attention though. said...

Hey, I know Wendy Artin's work. She's from my current home town. I bought my husband a couple of her figure studies because he became an admirer of that work when he was photographing some of Wendy's work for one of her galleries. What a small world. She is a brilliant draftsman and great water colorist. No influence on my work.

Well...I don't have heroes either but Euan Uglow had a pivotal influence on my still life work . And then there is Howard Hodgkin for color. I am not making up these names..they are Welsh and Brittish. Let's throw in Tom Thompson for painting outside . And let's not forget my mother either.

John D. Wooldridge said...

I'm constantly finding new heroes. I have more than I can shake a stick at. There are just so many fantastic painters it's enough to make one's head spin. However, two artists I keep coming back to are Isaac Levitan and Jean Francois-Millet. An odd couple to be sure and definitely off the beaten track. I keep meaning to do some studies of Levitan but keep getting sidetracked by my own work.

I have a ton of contemporary heroes as well.

Jose Luis De Juan said...

As an adolescent I was transfixed by Guido Reni's depiction for "Atalanta and Hippomenes" at the Prado Museum.

Reni was a mannerist painter and he looks a bit contrived now but he made a forceful impact way back then. I am sure the ivory elegance and dynamic force of the nudes was a big part of it.
Soon I was captivated by Velazquez, first by his "The Forge of Vulcan"

and progressively into his most impressionistic pieces finally settling on the "Meninas" which has remained my favorite painting of all time.

In the interim, Monet's joyful use of color, the usual suspects: Sorolla, Sargent and Zorn and a few other like Vermeer,Madrazo,Van Dyck or Lopez Garcia added to my ever-increasing pantheon. As I age, they just increase in stature more and more and humble and push me every day.

Unknown said...

My first hero was Frederick Remington. My dad took me to the Amon Carter museum of Western Art in Fort Worth, Tx, when I was maybe 7 or 8.. I was transfixed by those larger than life images of cowboy life... it was what made me want to be "an artist when I grow up".
Reading this blog has brought me more knowledge, and, more heros! John Carlson for landscape, Sargent (of course) and Bougereau for figure, and others. And I still like Remington.
And you know what? One day about two years ago, I happened upon some paintings online while doing a search for something (forgot what) and just happened to see some winter scenes that looked like Vermont. I really, really liked them. I thought to myself, "I want to paint like that someday." They were by some guy named Stapleton Kearns. Small world!

Stapleton Kearns said...

I saw a photo online of the two hung side by side.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Hey, where you been? It is good that she will talk to you and correspond. Not all artists will.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thanks. I think Sargent was their hero.

Stapleton Kearns said...

My heroes are, Willard Metcalf, Aldro Hibbard, Edward Seago and Jeff Beck.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I think that the old masters are the best heroes. No one today equals them. NO ONE.

Stapleton Kearns said...

That is a fine list.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I know Tom Thompson, I don't know the other two though. I will have to look them up.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Levitan and Millet, those are some heavies there.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Until about 1920 Guido Reni was on the short list of greatest old masters. These days he is obscure. You see lots of old prints of his chariot of Apollo in antique shops, it was a very popular picture with our Great Grandparents.

Stapleton Kearns said...

What? No Alex Katz! Remington is OK though.

geogeo said...

A phenomenon I have struggled to articulate- and I think I have it! I have seen works by Velazquez and Sargent- in front of the painting is a magic membrane, a pictorial event horizon; this side of it, you see an amazing reconstruction of reality- 're-presentation'. Just inside the painting turns into abstract calligraphy. The demarcarion can be amazingly sharp!

geogeo said...

A phenomenon I have struggled to articulate- and I think I have it! I have seen works by Velazquez and Sargent- in front of the painting is a magic membrane, a pictorial event horizon; this side of it, you see an amazing reconstruction of reality- 're-presentation'. Just inside the painting turns into abstract calligraphy. The demarcarion can be amazingly sharp!