Landscape with trees, Calcot-on-the-Thames

JOHN SINGER SARGENT (1856-1925) Biography

Landscape with trees, Calcot-on-the-Thames (England, c.1885)

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Oil on canvas
Inscribed By John S Sargent RA on the reverse in black paint and Farquharson in white chalk; also with the original stretcher and makers mark Lechertier-Barbe & Co., 60 Regent Street, London W and the original label of Sa


50.80cm high
68.60cm wide
(20.00 inches high)
(27.01 inches wide)
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The artist, c. 1888, to:
Violet Sargent Ormond, his sister; to:
Conrad Ormond, her son; to:
Jan Farquharson (son of the British artist Joseph Farquarson, [1846-1935], Sargent's teacher, colleague and family friend)
By descent in the family to 1989
Sotheby's New York, 24th May 1989 lot 126; bought:
Nicholas Kilmer, Cambridge, Massachusetts (grandson of the artist Frederick Carl Frieseke, 1874-1939)
Private Collection, New York, 1995 to date

Description / Expertise

Sargent was a cosmopolitan American, who settled in London in 1886 and soon established a reputation as a great society portrait painter. His virtuoso technique and bravura brushwork derives from his studies in Paris. But his sculptures and his murals in the Boston Public Library reveal a very different side to his art, which has affinities with the symbolist movement.
Sargent was born in Florence, son of a retired Philadelphia doctor, and travelled extensively in Europe with his parents as a boy. He received his art education in Rome, Florence and from 1874 in Paris under Carolus Duran. He first exhibited at the salon in 1878, where in 1882 his `El Jaleo' (Isabel Stewart Gardener Museum, Boston) was picture of the year. In the same year he began to exhibit at the Royal Academy, and moved to Chelsea in 1886. `Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose' was bought by the Chantrey Bequest in 1887 and by 1890 Sargent had established himself as a fashionable portrait painter. He travelled regularly to America to fulfill portrait commissions. He was elected Associate of the Royal Academy in 1894 and Royal Academician in 1897. In the Edwardian age he was acclaimed as the greatest portrait painter in Britain since Sir Thomas Lawrence.
Portrait painting was not his sole interest. In 1890 he accepted the Boston Library mural commission with enthusiasm. This was completed in 1910, when he began murals for the Art Museum in Boston. After 1907 he accepted few major oil portrait commissions, instead working on bold charcoal portraits. This allowed him to concentrate on oil and watercolour landscape paintings made on many continental visits. He was an official war artist and his last major easel paintings were First World War records, a portrait group of officers (National Portrait Gallery) and a large composition `Gassed' (Imperial War Museum). Richard Ormond's monograph on Sargent appeared in 1970.
During the late 1880's, while Sargent was establishing his reputation as the most illustrious portrait painter on both sides of the Atlantic, his Impressionist experiments in non-portrait and “holiday” painting made him one of the most advanced artists in the English speaking world.
Sargent and his family spent the summer of 1888 at Calcot Mill, a small village near Reading, on the Kennet, a branch of the Thames. This painting with its spontaneity, less structured compositional framework, high-pitched Impressionist colour and loose brushwork, is characteristic of Sargent's important experiments in outdoor painting in the mainstream of avant-garde Impressionism produced during this period.