John Singer Sargent (1856 – 1925) is one of the outstanding masters of watercolour painting. While his early watercolour sketches were mostly intended as studies for oil paintings and commissioned portraits, watercolour later became his preferred medium.
On his many travels he documents his immediate experiences in the style of impressionistic plein-air-painting . Almost everything he encounters is of artistic interest to him and becomes the subject of a painting. Many of his watercolours were created in Venice, where he lived for a time. For Sargent, Venice was the place where the lines between dream and reality, past and present, art and life dissolved. He was fascinated by the coexistence of water, light and picturesque architecture.
Like all of Sargent’s watercolours, “Santa Maria della Salute” captivates the viewer with its loose brushwork, a reduced palette, wonderful colour harmonies and perfectly placed tonal values, which creates the impression of transparency, immediacy and elusiveness. Without having to depict everything in detail, he succeeds in creating a highly convincing reality, often only with the tiniest hints of dots and brush strokes.
Selected literature: Carl Little, The Watercolors of John Singer Sargent, Chameleon Books, 1998; M. Schwander (ed.), Venedig – Von Canaletto und Turner bis Monet, Hatje/Cantz, 2008