MFAH Houston/Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by Special Subscription. John Singer Sargent, "The Bridge of Sighs" c. 1903-04.
The amazingly prolific American-born John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) had already secured his reputation and fame as the leading oil painting portraiture artist of his time. But by the turn of the 20th century, he felt the medium had grown...well...as staid and stale as some of his subjects.
So as a challenge to himself -- and to allow a more fluid and faster-paced creativity -- he began to concentrate on producing watercolors. Two exhibitions of these works at New York's Knoedler Galleries in 1909 and 1912 (curated by the artist himself) were massive successes.
The entire group of Sargent's works at each show was purchased by the Brooklyn Museum and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, respectively -- the latter before it even opened to the public.
Now, more than 90 of what one contemporary critic called "swagger watercolours" from both exhibitions come together in the MFAH's "John Singer Sargent: The Watercolors."
"At the turn of the century, Sargent was at the top of his game, but he felt he had achieved all he could in portraiture," says Kaylin Weber, assistant curator of american painting and sculpture at the MFAH.More »