Eyewitnesses said that when John Singer Sargent painted in watercolor, he “groaned, swore (if no ladies were present), exclaimed, whistled to keep his spirits up, growled in rage when things went wrong, and then shouted in triumph as he completed his work to his satisfaction. It was a noisy performance.”
Another observer noted that he talked to himself: “This is impossible,” Mr. Sargent muttered. “You can’t do it. Why do you try these things? You know it’s hopeless. It can’t be done.”
Then: “Yes, it can, yes, it can, it can be done—my God, I’ve done it.”
From “Art: A New History,” by Paul Johnson, page 521.
Image: "In the Tyrol," 1904, 21 x 13 inches, image courtesy Art Renewal Center.