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Archive for June, 2012

John Singer Sargent developed his massive masterpiece “El Jaleo” (over 8 ft high), in numerous pencil sketches and studies, watercolours and even oil paintings. Sargent. Spanish Dancer.

His largest and most finished oil study and and independent work in itself was “The Spanish Dancer” (over 6 ft high). This painting only came to light in 1988, more than a hundred years after it was painted.

When Sargent moved house in Paris, legend has it that he gave this masterpiece to his chambermaid (unfortunately we know nothing about her, but she must have been a very special chambermaid!) Not long after, it is told, some wealthy family persuaded her that they could look after it better.

In one book alone I was able to count 20 drawings, 1 watercolour and 3 oil versions. This is what it takes to do a work of mastery, this is what it took the most talented and this is what it takes me and you. I am continually amazed that artists of our time presume to do in two or three days what took the world’s greatest masters 3 or 4 years.

Art appears to have become a commodity, and considered work is a rarity. Titian claims to have taken up to 4 year to do one painting and Gericault’s Raft of the Medusa went through two years of intense research and studies.

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