Sargent and Monet

Claude Monet Painting by the Edge of a Wood by John Singer Sargent
Claude Monet Painting by the Edge of a Wood by John Singer Sargent

We are lucky that Sargent (along with Monet and so many of their artist contemporaries) lived in a time of hand-written letters, many with sketches included, revealing interesting insights into their lives. A recent exhibition titled “Your Sincerely, John S. Sargent” at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston included a selection of correspondence, drawings and photographs by and about John Singer Sargent, including fifteen letters exchanged between Sargent and his good friend, Claude Monet. It is the result of the new John Singer Sargent Archive established by the Museum and made possible by two large gifts of letters and photographs from Sargent’s grand-nephew and his wife, Richard and Leonée Ormond and from the art dealer Warren Adelson and his wife, MFA Overseer Jan Adelson. They have been compiling the works for thirty years.

The letters in the collection give us a valuable window into Sargent’s daily life and the friendship between two of the most formidable artists of the day. Looking at their works from the 21st century, it is hard for us to imagine their insecurities about their work and the influence each took from the other in their paintings, but their correspondence gives us a glimpse of how they struggle with their own styles and how to paint in a way that was true to themselves.

Sargent to Monet in 1887 (after moving to England worrying about not exhibiting in the Salon in Paris that year):

“I deeply regret that I shall have nothing for the Salon, because I really do not want to be forgotten in Paris. It would upset me if I were considered a poor idiot, who has ceased to exhibit there to make a statement . . . . I beg you, if you hear from our friends that I am a deserter or an ingrate, or that I am sulking, to contradict such nonsense.”

Sargent to Monet in 1889:

“I am still haunted by the memory of your most recent paintings, full of unfathomable things . . . I am fully aware that your work of the moment is surpassing that of all others and nearing perfection.”

Meadow with Haystacks near Giverny by Claude Monet
Meadow with Haystacks near Giverny by Claude Monet

It is believed that Sargent’s painting of Monet working en plein air – Claude Monet Painting by the Edge of a Wood (above), done in 1885, is showing Monet painting Pré à Giverny – Meadows with Haystacks near Giverny – evidence of the two friends sharing a painting outing near Monet’s home.

Although Sargent was the younger of the two (1856 – 1925), he died before Monet (1840 – 1926). Monet wrote:  “We have lost an old friend. It is truly a sad day.”

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–John and Ann


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John Hulsey and Ann Trusty

About John Hulsey and Ann Trusty

John Hulsey and his wife, Ann Trusty created the website, The Artist's Road - Painting the World's Beautiful Places.  The Artist's Road inspires with practical art tips and painting techniques for the traveling artist, video painting tutorials and demonstrations, workshop resources, artist profiles and interviews and remarkable painting locations.  The Artist's Road is an artist community for oil, watercolor and pastel artists.  Articles cover intriguing art travel experiences artists have had while painting the world's beautiful places. "I believe I must speak through my art, for the preservation of Nature and the natural landscape from which I take my inspiration and living." John Hulsey is an accomplished artist, author and teacher who has been working professionally for over thirty years. In addition to producing new work for exhibition and teaching workshops, Mr. Hulsey continues to write educational articles about painting for national art magazines, including Watercolor magazine and American Artist Magazine. He has been selected as a "Master Painter of the United States" by International Artist Magazine where his work was previously chosen to be included in the top ten of their international landscape painting competition. He was awarded residencies at Yosemite, Glacier and Rocky Mountain National Parks. "I strive in my art to celebrate the mysteries of Nature - the fleeting light on the landscape, the unimaginable diversity of creatures, the beauty of each leaf and flower." Ann Trusty  is an accomplished third generation artist whose work embodies the natural world and is created through direct observation and translation of her subjects into her paintings. She has found inspiration in the dancing light across the water of the Hudson River (where she had a studio for ten years), as well as the big sky and waving tall grasses of the open plains of the Midwest (her current home). Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States, France and Turkey in both museum and gallery exhibitions, and has been reviewed favorably by the New York Times.