John Singer Sargent (1856-1925)
Well Head with Kufic Inscription
pencil and watercolour on paper
13 x 9 ¾ in. (33 x 24.8 cm.)
Mrs. Hugo Pitman (née Reine Ormond), niece of the artist.
Gertrude Stein, Paris, France.
David Daniels, New York.
Anonymous Sale; Christie's, New York, 2 December 1998, lot 41 where acquired.
R. Ormond and E. Kilmurray, John Singer Sargent Figures and Landscapes, 1900 - 1907, Complete Paintings, Volume VII, London, 2012, no.1446.
New York, Whitney Museum of American Art, 18th and 19th Century Paintings from Private Collections, June-September 1972, no. 66.

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Adrian Hume-Sayer
Adrian Hume-Sayer

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Lot Essay

Singer-Sargent stayed in Madrid for several weeks in the winter of 1879. Here, he visited the Taller del Moro museum in Toledo, where the subject of this watercolour was kept. It is possible that he sketched the preliminary outlines of the work within the museum before adding the wash of muted earth colours and gradient blue watercolour afterwards.

Created circa 14th Century the red earthenware cylinder with white tin-glaze and green glazed ceramic inscription in interlocking Kufic script embraces a strong Islamic Spanish aesthetic. However, Toledo had been a Christian area since 1085 and this connection was a cultivated but purely decorative hangover from this time.

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