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Home | Articles | Noteworthy Sales: John Singer Sargent

Sold to a private collector at the
2004 Winter Antiques Show
John Singer Sargent
(American, 1856–1925)
Ricordi di Capri, 1878
Signed and inscribed lower right:
John S. Sargent/Capri
Oil on panel
131/2 x 101/8 inches
Courtesy of Adelson Galleries, Inc.

From a private collection, this charming work has only been exhibited publicly once in the last forty years, during a 1989 traveling exhibition in Japan. It is one of the least known of the dozen or so oils that Sargent painted on Capri in 1878. Here, he captures the relaxed, sun-baked atmosphere of the tiny Mediterranean island as two children in traditional Capriote dress descend a whitewashed staircase.

Sargent’s striking diagonal composition, created with dynamic contrasts of white and blue-grays, is a study in sophisticated simplicity. He revisited these experiments with white light a year later in North Africa in his tour-de-force work, Fumee d’Ambre Gris (Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, Mass.).

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