Thursday, May 16, 2013

Manikin in the Snow

In the winter of 1892, two artistic comrades, John Singer Sargent and Edwin Austin Abbey, set up an artist's lay figure in the snow. They set about to paint it, each with a different mental approach. According to art critic Royal Cortissoz:

"They were together one day at Abbey's place in the country and despite the snow storm which was raging were resolved to paint, setting a manikin just where they could see it from the window and tricking it out with a cloak, hat, and lute. The result was two characteristic pictures.

"Sargent's was an unmistakable "actuality," the picture of a manikin provided with studio properties. 

"Abbey's was the portrait of a living troubadour, wearing his cloak and feathered hat with an air and strumming his lute while he lustily sang. 
"Sargent had made a record of exactly what he saw. Abbey had given free play to his imagination and endowed a senseless thing with life. The episode illustrates his [Abbey's] greatest gift, that of evocation."
Quoted from Paintings, Drawings and Pastels by Edwin Austin Abbey, Gallery of Fine Arts, Yale University, 1939, p. 3
Both images appear in the book: John Singer Sargent: Figures and Landscapes, 1883-1899: The Complete Paintings, Volume V
Previously on GJ: Artist's Lay Figures


Harm said...

Beautiful works by two excellent painters. I did not know Edwin Austin Abbey so thanks in advance for mentioning him.
I love the way Abbey is more an illustrator, storyteller, almost fantasy artist.
PS there's also an artist of the month section devoted to him on muddy colors (
Keep up the great work mr. Gurney!

JonInFrance said...

There's a lesson somewhere in there...:)

Victor said...

I have a lot of respect and admiration for Sargent's skills, but he was made a fool of by Abbey here.

Sargent's piece just looks so pointless compared to Abbeys.

Jo-Ann Sanborn said...

It can be argued that while Abbey has the better figure Sargent has a superior composition.