John Singer Sargent, Scuola di San Rocco, 1903, Watercolor on paper

John Singer Sargent, Scuola di San Rocco, 1903, Watercolor on paper

John Singer Sargent: The Watercolorist

Thursday, May 1, 2014

John Singer Sargent is an artist known mostly for his work in portraiture. He developed a solid reputation as a watercolorist in the early 20th century after deciding to no longer accept portrait commissions. Sargent is often referred to as an American artist although he was born in Italy in 1856. He studied art throughout Europe and lived the majority of his adult life in England. His family had deep roots in the American colonies and Sargent first traveled to the United States in 1876.

Sargent traveled throughout Europe creating beautiful works of art. He spent a significant amount of time in the city of Venice, Italy where he focused specifically on watercolor painting.  Scuola di San Rocco was painted from the vantage point of a canal boat in 1903. The Scuola di San Rocco was established in 1478 in Venice. After a series of architects, the building was complete in 1560. Today it is a music school.

In 2013, The Brooklyn Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts Boston co-curated the exhibition John Singer Sargent Watercolors. The exhibit included ninety three watercolor works by Sargent. Many of the thirty eight watercolors from the Brooklyn Museum's collection were purchased in 1909 from Sargent's debut exhibition in New York. The Museum of Fine Arts Boston acquired a large collection of his watercolors in 1912. Many of the works in the exhibition had not been seen by the public in decades. The watercolors portray Venetian canals and bridges, the Italian Alps,  Mediterranean sailing vessels, and various nautical scenes.  

—Tara L. Lyons


Tara L. Lyons is the Program Manager and Museum Educator at The Buffalo History Museum where she creates community programming and curates temporary exhibitions. She received her B.A. in Art History and Museum Studies from Buffalo State College. She is expected to receive her Masters in Museum Operations from Buffalo State College in the fall of 2014.