John Singer Sargent (1856-1925)
John Singer Sargent (1856-1925)

River Bank, near Oxford

Details
John Singer Sargent (1856-1925)
River Bank, near Oxford
oil on canvas
17 x 21 in. (43.2 x 53.3 cm.)
Painted circa 1888.
Provenance
The artist.
Flora Priestley, gift from the above.
Robert Childers Barton, Glendalough House, Annamoe, County Wicklow, Ireland, by bequest from the above, 1944.
Coe Kerr Gallery, New York, 1976.
Ira Spanierman, Inc., New York.
Acquired by the late owner from the above, 1979.
Literature
C.M. Mount, "Carolus-Duran and the Development of Sargent," Art Quarterly, vol. 26, Winter 1963, pp. 402, 406, fig. 20, illustrated.
R. Ormond, E. Kilmurray, John Singer Sargent: Figures and Landscapes, 1883-1899: The Complete Paintings, vol. V, New Haven, Connecticut, 2010, pp. 154, 347, no. 884, illustrated.

Lot Essay

In the summer of 1888, Sargent and his family moved to Calcot Mill near the River Kinnett in the English country of Berkshire. "This autumnal scene was painted from land, but according to Charles Merrill Mount, it was executed on a day when Sargent was on a boat trip with his friend and the first owner of the picture, Flora Priestley. The painting bears all the hallmarks of swift execution, and there is a quality of freshness in the slightly skewed composition, the brio of the brushwork, the uncluttered palette, and what seems to be a rain-washed sky." (R. Ormond, E. Kilmurray, John Singer Sargent: Figures and Landscapes, 1883-1899: The Complete Paintings, vol. V, 2010, New Haven, Connecticut, p. 154).

Charles Merritt Mount writes of the present work, "A river bank...has an amusing story attached to it, for it appears to be the result of a day the artist and Miss Priestly [sic] spent together on a boat near Oxford. Clearly it was Miss Priestly who held Sargent's attention, for his effort at sketching did not prosper. The canvas became too heavily loaded with pigment, as happens when a great artist is distracted. Then on the homeward journey it lay face upward on the boat, where it was scratched across by willows beneath which they passed. Why the artist chose to go so close to these destructive trees we do not trouble to ask, nor does one really regret the incisions still clearly seen across the surface of the picture' ("Carolus-Duran and the Development of Sargent," Art Quarterly, vol. 26, Winter 1963, p. 406).
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