Sargent and the Sea at the Royal Academy of Arts

John Singer Sargent is one of the late-nineteenth century’s most celebrated portrait painters, but little was known of his earlier work in seascapes and coastal scenes – until now.

Sargent and the Sea at the Royal Academy of Arts provides a fascinating look at Sargent’s early work and his early stages of development as an artist.

During his youth, Sargent travelled widely, and this exhibition includes work from the artist on his travels aged just 18. By the age of 20, Sargent was already producing awe-inspiring work.

His 1876 seascapes capture his transatlantic crossing perfectly, especially the turbulent Atlantic Storm and the calm and seducing Atlantic Sunset.

A year later on a trip to Brittany, the young Sargent painted stunning coastal scenes, encapsulated by En Route Pour la Pêche (Setting Out to Fish). His terrific attention to detail on the figures in this beach scene shows early signs of his focus on portraiture later in life.

An extensive collection of detailed sketches allude to Singer’s fascination with figure and form, culminating in numerous paintings of local children on a trip to Capri in 1878.

Royal Academy curator Ann Dumas said: “We’re familiar with his highly successful work as a portraitist, so it’s very interesting to discover the extraordinarily talented and precocious artist he was in his earlier years.”

See Sargent and the Sea at the Royal Academy of Arts from 10 July to 26 September.

 

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