Before the late 19th century, tradition dictated that every painting, even watercolor, begin with a dark underpainting, usually in grey or brown tones. This was believed to give the painted forms richness or depth. The French impressionists abandoned that way or painting and applied pure color directly to the gessoed surface. Sargent studied the work of the impressionists and incorporated their love of light into his works. He was one of the first watercolorists to use the white of the paper as highlights in his composition. The light can be very subtly rendered by varying the transparency of the watercolor.
Artform: PAINTING AND DRAWING, Pre-20th Century
Artist: Sargent, John Singer
Artist Dates: 1856-1925
Country/Culture: United States
Period: 19th century
Medium: transparent watercolor and opaque white watercolor over graphite
Size: 25 x 35 cm
Subject: genre - home and family
Style: American Impressionism & Tonalism
Museum: Philadelphia Museum of Art
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