Unloading Boats
inscribed, signed and dated 'to Miss Essie Wertheimer/with best wishes/John S. Sargent Jan. 1904' (lower right)
watercolor on paper
10 x 14 in. (25.4 x 35.6 cm.)
Executed circa 1902-03
The artist.
Essie Wertheimer, gift from the above, 1904.
Anne Wilding, daughter of the above, by descent, 1933.
Christie's, London, 13-14 November 1986, lot 23, sold by the above.
Peter Nahum, Ltd., London, acquired from the above.
Tom and Odette Worrell, Florida, acquired from the above, 1987.
Sotheby's, New York, 25 May 1995, lot 19, sold by the above.
Acquired by Ann and Gordon Getty from the above.
W.H. Downes, John S. Sargent: His Life and Work, Boston, Massachusetts, 1925, p. 365.
R. Ormond, E. Kilmurray, John Singer Sargent: Venetian Figures and Landscapes, 1898-1913, vol. VI, New Haven, Connecticut, 2009, pp. 49, 56, 60n164, 147, 157, 182n1, 242, no. 1107, illustrated.
London, Claridge Gallery, Loan Exhibition of Water Colours by the Late John S. Sargent, R.A., July 1925, no. 4.
London, The Royal Academy, The Winter Exhibition of Works by the Late John S. Sargent, R.A., January 14-March 13, 1926, p. 70, no. 471.
London, Peter Nahum, Ltd., Fifth Exhibition, 1987, no. 38.

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Joshua Glazer
Joshua Glazer Specialist, Head of Private Sales

Lot Essay

Over the course of more than thirty years of nearly annual visits to Venice, John Singer Sargent formed an abiding love for and fascination with the floating city's unique contradictory character, which inspired his depictions of its magnificent architecture and gritty life on the water. Unloading Boats is part of a group of watercolors depicting the ships and boats of the Venetian harbor, many of which are housed in museum collections such as the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, Massachusetts; The Brooklyn Museum, New York; and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, Portugal.
According to Richard Ormond, Unloading Boats was painted from the vantage point of the artist's gondola, likely in the environs of the Giudecca Canal, and depicts an open view of the shipping roads off Venice (John Singer Sargent: Venetian Figures and Landscapes, 1898-1913, vol. VI, New Haven, Connecticut, 2009, p. 147). The painting was a gift from the artist to Essie Wertheimer (1880-1933), the fourth daughter of the art dealer Asher Wertheimer, in January 1904 (p. 157). Asher Wertheimer was Sargent's single greatest patron, and his family were among the many friends who received Sargent's Venetian watercolors as gifts. A Sargent portrait of Essie with her siblings Ruby and Ferdinand (1902) is in the collection of the Tate, London.

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