Mar 192012

The Origins of Street Photography

What exactly is street photography

and when did it begin? 

Was it the 1950’s or 

was it the 1930’s?  Did it have

anything to do with the 

invention of the 35mm?  The

roots of street photography extend 

back the 1400’s when painters

became interested in daily

scenes.  Lets have a look into

the source pool to see what 

we discover in the works of 

John Singer Sargent.  


Water Carriers by John Singer Sargent

An “American” in Venice

I never understood why art historians refer to John Singer Sargent as an American artist.  The painter was born to American parents in Florence Italy in the year 1856.  There was hardly anything American about the painter.  It only adds to the confusion that he appears in the American Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Sargent was raised with a household of maids from France, Spain, Italy, Germany and England.  Subsequently, he spoke five languages.  He never received formal education, only tutors.  Aside from his gift for languages he dazzled Parisian and Londoner crowds with his social graces and prodigious piano and guitar playing and paintings.  In short, he was a gentleman of Europe, and a truly cosmopolitan artist.

John Singer Sargent Self Portrait 1886

You Think Your Mom is Crazy?

This past weekend my girlfriend and I were reflecting on the mix of parenting we received as children.  Parenting is a tough business and our parents have their quirks.  But none of our experiences hold a candle to the weirdness of Mrs. Sargent.  Mary Newbold Singer Sargent was a self professed “sickly lady” who needed to retreat to Europe.  Once she was free of America her maladies seemed to vanish.  Every time her recovery appeared permanent, her husband wanted to board the next ship back to the US.  To curb this tendency, Mrs. Sargent gave birth five times between 1856 and 1870.  A pregnant lady was unfit for a ocean voyage.

Mrs. Sargent was desperate to never set foot in the United States again, but did not express anti-American sentiments.  She was perfectly fine with America, just as long as she could live in Europe.  Her illnesses, unfortunately manifested themselves most acutely in the children, not herself.  Two of her daughters and one son died before the age of five, one after being dropped by a nurse.  Sargent and his surviving sister Violet lived full, happy lives.  She died at eighty five in Florence in 1870.  Needless to say the surviving children were given profound attention by their odd, but endearing mother.  In total Sargent only spent eight years of his life on American soil, which is why his American attribution feels misplaced.

A scene like this would have been virtually unheard of in the 1880's. No woman would walk around Venice without a male escort. Maybe this is the way Sargent wanted Venice to be. Street in Venice by John Singer Sargent.

What Is Street Photography?

As far as I can understand it, Street Photography is a misunderstood term.  It is used by publishers, search engines, and flickr groups to talk about a new style of picture making that is in effect a few hundred years old.  It is a half breed between travel, cultural, human condition, documentary, portraiture, and fine art photography with a conceptual twist.  This ensures that almost any time the term is being cast like a net over a set of pictures, the images are either being grossly under estimated or elevated to the status of a genre worthy of a name, when in truth they are just a collection of snap shots.  As Capa warned Cartier-Bresson, titles should be avoided because they lead to pigeon holes.  Once the fad is over, you don‘t want to have a label tattooed on your back.

In truth, we could consider the Egyptian hieroglyphs proto-Street Photography since they show the working slave conditions of the Pharaohs from a time before Christ.  But if we want to get into the source material for most of the street photography in the world we have to look back to characters like John Singer Sargent and his years in Venice.  There are plenty of earlier European examples, which I will cover in future articles, but for now I would like to focus on Sargent because I enjoy his work and life in Venice.


Campo dei Frari by John Singer Sargent

Is the Street Random?

Internet discussions seem to revolve around the idea that Street Photography is a collection of random scenes, ordinary items, and everyday moments that would normally be considered meaningless.  And truthfully most of the editorial world still considers them meaningless.  Its rare, if ever, that an editorial photographer would advertise themselves as a “Street Photographer” because most editors don’t hire street photographers.  It is more of a pastime for enthusiasts and for professionals it is the “artistic side,” not often included in their normal workflow of client deadlines.  But then again, most editorial work ends up in the waste basket anyway, so we must be careful how we measure the success of a image or business card heading.  Editors are not the be all and end all of photography.

Cafe on the Riva degli Schiavoni by John Singer Sargent

But maybe if we were to approach Street Photography like Sargent, we may find different results.  In the two stints which he lived in Venice (1880 & 1882) I hardly imagine he would have described his work or subject matter as mundane, ordinary, or random.  In order to sit down at an easel and invest the time a painting requires, we imagine that Sargent must have thought pretty highly of his activities.  Otherwise he would have been better off grabbing a Spritz and enjoying some cicchetti in a piazza.

Critics were not all in favor of Sargent's depiction of Venice. A Street in Venice by John Singer Sargent.

The criticism of Sargent’s Venetian work was not all favorable.  The set of Venetian images was considered by some to be random and disappointing.  They maintain a strange parallel to much of street photography’s criticism.  This is an important thing to understand as a photographer.  Often on this blog or while teaching I use the terms Artist and Photographer interchangeably.  Each group, while choosing a different medium is often engaged in parallel discussions.  One of which surrounds the idea of dealing with criticism.  Sargent’s paintings from Venice were met with some negative feedback like:


“…leads us into obscure squares and dark streets

where only a single ray of light falls.  The women

of Venice, with their messy hair and ragged

clothes are no descendants of Titian’s beauties.  Why

go to Italy if its only to gather impressions like these?” 

— Arthur Baignères, 1883


The critic seems to be saying, “What’s the big deal with painting a bunch of ratty girls wandering around the streets of Venice?”  I believe Monsieur Baignéres was terribly mistaken.  Sargent’s Venetian scenes reveal the life inside of Venice’s great palazzi, while they outline the path an artist must take in search of a subject.  Great images hardly fall into artists laps.  They need to search for them like an archeologist hunting for ruins.  There is only so much factual evidence that can make us dig.  Part of the process is feeling our way through subject matter until the bell tower (campanile) of art becomes audible.

(Quote from “John Singer Sargent” by Patricia Hills in association with the Whitney Museum of Art)


This is the entry stair case at Ca' Rezzonico where Sargent kept a studio for a period of time. Adam Marelli Leica M6 & 21mm Elmarit.

Venice as a Muse

Anyone who has travelled to Venice knows that it is not an easy place to photograph.  The pictures we see tend to fulfill every cliché of gondolas and churches imaginable.  Why would such a picturesque city be difficult to photograph?  Well for starters, Venetians are hard to find.  Many of the great houses like Ca’ Rezzonico, where Sargent kept a studio, are now empty.  Many Venetians have left the city.  At the moment, the population of Venice is at its lowest since the last time the Black Plague swept through the city.  There are less than 60,000 locals still living in Venice proper.  So finding scenes of actual Venetian life is a challenge.  Anyone can walk up to Piazza San Marco or the Accademia and snap a picture, but as we look at Sargent’s images, we see the impulse to discover the real Venice behind the heavy doorways of these urban castles.

Sargent spent his days in the back streets of Dorsoduro, though he did take an apartment in Piazza San Marco for a time.  Outside of central Venice, the streets are not overrun with tourists groups descending from cruise ships wearing shorts and sleeveless shirts.  If one thing angers a Venetian more than anything, it is tourists who arrive to their city under dressed.  Venice has been a tourist wonder since before Sargent, so in that case nothing has changed about the city.  But that did not stop Sargent from exploring the interiors and the streets on his own.  We notice in many of his paintings that the characters repeat.  This implies that there is a routine to the city, which is easy enough to understand.  Most of us have routines of sorts.  But it also tells us that Sargent made friends with locals.

Gigia Viani by John Singer Sargent

Una Bella Ragazza

One Venetian he was particularly fond of was Gigia Viani.  His depictions of her feel so faithful that we might recognize her if we saw her walking with her crimson shawl.  Now as the budding street photographer might already understand, if you follow someone on the street it is considered stalking.  It is liable to get you in a lot of trouble.  But if you make friends with a local, your time wandering the streets is just a matter of hanging out.

Sargent used his resources and language skills wisely.  Completely fluent in Italian, he painted scenes that were quintessentially Venetian.  As we venture through a city, all scenes are not equal.  There are some scenes which define a city and other scenes that read more like visual static.  Sargent excelled at depicting scenes which would not be found outside of Venice.  The hints of architecture or light are undeniably Venetian.

When we look at the progression of his Bead Stringers we can watch Sargent distill the activities from a work environment to a sort of lounge.  His early paintings, were of an activity, namely the women weaving beaded cloth.  This seams like a logical place for a painter to start.  He chose a typical Venetian product (Beaded Fabric) and painted the women at work.  The entire arrangement is very literal, but would have given him an excuse to hang around a space for a longer period of time.  He gives us a little tip embedded in the canvases.  If you want to see an aspect of life, propose it to your subjects as a piece of art.  It allows you to linger, without them feeling put off.  Hardly anyone likes being stared at, but if you are making work, usually you can linger for as long as you would like.

Venetian Bead Stringers I by John Singer Sargent

Where he starts with the first Venetian Bead Stringer’s, we are given a scene with all the indicators of what is to come in the later works.  The interior is typically dark, as is common with many Venetian homes.   Skylights were not very prevalent in Sargent’s time.  We can recognize the bright sun in the background windows.  These same exteriors would be blown out if we were to make a photograph.  Inside the high wood beamed ceilings look no different today.  The advantage Sargent had was the women were still manufacturing goods in the city.  Nowadays a majority of the tourists goods are imported which is a shame.  Though there are a number of Venetian establishments making goods again.

The women, huddled around the table, would be a street photographers dream.  They are so distracted they hardly even notice each other.  This is not a functioning factory, but merely the activities of women who would rather be elsewhere.  As Sargent explores this further, the bead making transitions from being the primary activity to a background support.

A Venetian Interior by John Singer Sargent.

As Sargent passes through the second Bead Stringer painting titled Venetian Interior, we see work happening along a back wall, but the main characters are hanging out on the left side of the canvas.  The same blown out light trickles along the floor of the dark hall.  But Sargent is shifting from depicting accurate working life to the casual languor which Venice is famous for.

Venetian Interior with Gigia by John Singer Sargent

When we arrive at the Venetian Interior which includes Gigia Viani, all work has drawn to a close.  Gigia and a companion walk down the hallway, sliced by a line of bright light on the floor.  She is mid step and reminds us more of the Cartier-Bresson tradition of the walking figure than of Titian (Titziano, for the Italian) reclining Venus.  Here we see Sargent playing all the games of street photography without any of the pretenses of a formal painting.  But…But….do not let the casual nature of the image deceive you.  This is a highly designed work of art.

The women make a full turn of the clock from three o'clock to nine o'clock and back to the center.

The figure placement is the stuff that Cartier-Bresson dreamt of as a young Surrealist photographer.  If we start from the back of the painting and walk forward we see the far figure on the balcony gazes to the right.  As we move clockwise we see Gigia looking to the right but her body moves to the left.  The third, unknown figure looks to the left.  Her gaze continues the clockwise motion of the work until BANG the last lazy figure brings us back to Gigia.  There is NOTHING accidental about the placement of these figures.  And while they are not engaged in anything more than walking, Sargent is trying to show us how to see social activity Venetian style.

All the while, he plays with light, adjusting the exterior brightness to the reflected light inside.  His figures each hold a considerable amount of reflected light to read against the dark backdrops.  He also subdues the colors leaving us with just a taste of yellow orange in the lights and subdued grays for the balance of the images.

Italian Girl with a Fan by John Singer Sargent

Sargent’s Day Job

As Sargent was wrapping up his second stay in Venice he needed to delay the departure.  He was working on a large canvas called Italian Girl with Fan (forse si chima “La ragazza col ventaglio”) for submission to the Salon in Paris.  Even Sargent had a bit of  a day job.  Portraiture was his primary means of income and the most highly regarded type of painting for competition.  For the subject he chose to depict his friend (and I hope for his sake, lover) Gigia Viani.  The image reads like a full length street portrait of a girl stopped for a moment.  Her toe carries all of the vertical strength of the image while her parted lips seem to be seconds from speaking.

We see all of the marks of the Venetian Interiors, except he is focused on only Gigia.  Her body is punctuated by a rich crimson shawl which echoes her lips and eyes.  The wall is a warm yellow gray that supports the brightness of her clothing.  If she is the Venetian woman in rags that Baignéres complained of, I would see every reason in the world to go to Venice.  She is absolutely captivating.   

This is probably Sargent's most relaxed image of Gigia, wasting away the day. The Sulphur Match by John Singer Sargent

Packing the Bags

As Sargent wrapped up his second stay in Venice he concluded a body of work that predates the effort of every street photographer in history.  His images show that the rapid production of images was not something that needed a camera.  It was an artistic impulse that was no way linked to technology.  People are generally curious about one another.  Some of them are capable enough with their art to pass that curiosity through layers of paint for generations to come.

The original is in private collection, so there is only a black and white photograph available. But it works well because it shows us how much we owe to Sargent's work as photographers. Campo Behind Scuola di San Rocco by John Singer Sargent

When I listen to photographic critiques and lectures, I hear most often that photographers talk of other photographers.  The conversation is too narrow and often excludes important artistic figures in the development of image making.  Even if the photographers who inspire us were not artists, if you trace the genealogy of art backwards it all reaches a point where painting was the inspiration.  This is not because painting has any superiority to other mediums, but it was and probably still is one of the most widely practiced artistic forms in human history.

Our efforts as street photographers or photographers in general, are not new or original.  We have, as I see it, a cultural obligation to understand our visual roots and pass artistic lessons to the next generation.  When we do this, it is imperative to point out that photography is merely the last ten keys on the artist’s piano.  The other eighty six are owned by 45,000 years of hand made artistic heritage.  And without a proper context the efforts of any artist are in vein.


Adam Marelli 










  32 Responses to “John Singer Sargent”

  1. Great article Adam! I was not aware of John Singer Sargent but I would have been immensely proud of returning from Venice with a photographic body of work even a fraction as good as his paintings. And, believe me, I have tried :-)

    Good light, Per.

    • Hi Per,

      Glad to offer an introduction to Sargent for you. He has another great series of paintings from Spain and North Africa. If he lived today he would have been quite the photographer.

      As for Venice, we have all come home with images that left us wanting for more. Everyone has experienced a scene that could not quite be captured on film. Without practice and training those magical moments continue to sneak around the next corner. Sargent gives us a good template to use.


  2. Also, you had a distince division between Northern European and Italian Renaissance Art. The Italians were more interested in idealized images of grand religious and mythological themes whereas the Northerners were more into ‘reality’ – street scenes, taverns, common folks and such…So for a figure of Christ on the Cross, the Italians would portray a buff, idealized savior whereas Mattias Grunewald would portray Christ in a very graphic, almost gross sort of fashion, lavishing detail on his rotting flesh.

    Because Sargent was in Italy they might have been expecting him to go the route of the Italian Old Masters like Titian but he obviously didn’t follow suit.

    • Hey Debra,

      There certainly are some uncharacteristic qualities about Sargent’s work in Venice. I always saw his work as an effort to loosen up the style of Guardi and Canaletto. Their city scenes probably fall more into the Andreas Gursky camp of photography. Hyper realistic with miles of detail, but often too clinical.

      Have you read Panofsky’s book on “Perspective as Symbolic Form”? He talks about the Northern and Italian splits in religion, commercial life, and how that influenced painting.

      While Sargent owes a great debt to Titian, his approach with Gigia is completely understandable.

      And as an art historian, can you let me know why on earth he is referred to as Titian? The poor man must be screaming in his grave saying “My name is Tiziano!” Why did they ever make an english version of his name? The italian names sound so much better.


      • I was just thinking of Panofsky – I know we read at least one of his books in college as well as Ernst Gombrich and a few others –.I’m having to re-excavate that area of my life as it was quickly abanonded when I entered the real (ie work) world and discovered that my typing skills were far more valuable than my art history degree…

        Not sure about the Titian nomenclature – probably English arrogance at work. For example, despite the fact that there is a huge emphasis on the ‘name of Jesus’ in Christianity, his Aramaic name was not ‘Jesus’ at all but rather something like Yeshua.

  3. Very interesting indeed Adam.
    I drank it up and wanted more…

    • Hi Danni,

      Not sure if there are any Sargent paintings in your local museum, but if so, they are worth seeing in person. Even the best art books do not compare to seeing these works in person.

      I am happy to give you a guided entry to the works and if you don’t have it on the schedule yet, plan a trip to Venice in the Fall to search for Sargent’s inspiration.


      • I work a block away from the Chicago Art Institute. I read your article, and immediately abandoned work to run over and take a look at the five or six that are hanging there. I felt so lucky to be able to do that!

        • Hey Michael,

          You are in a great location. You are very fortunate to be able to hop over the Institute and see the work in person.

          Sargent is outstanding!


  4. Yes, Adam there is no choice for my next trip I will go to Venice, too:) Thanks for inspiration and next great article!

  5. Another fantastic article, Adam. Thank you. You’re inspiring to look more into the history of art as a photographer. I am currently reading the bio of Cartier-Bresson by Assouline, and the influence of painting on his photography comes up constantly.

    • Hey Kyle,

      I am very pleased to hear that you are reading Cartier Bresson’s biography. The book received above average reviews, but as a photographer the book is outstanding. It is incredibly useful to understand how LONG it took for his work and specific images to develop. No pun intended.

      The painters were his primary influences for a few reasons. 1) There were not a ton of good photographers in the early 30s and 40s, 2) HCB absolutely idolized the artists of his day and had a good number of chances to interact with them, and 3) Andre Lhote taught him how to see below the surface of a painting to understand design.

      In the course of his life as he was interviewed he gives snippets of useful information, but just like most great paintings the language is in a subtle code. Its kind of like “getting an inside joke.” If you are familiar with his history, this interests, and the formal language of art, all of the comments make sense. Otherwise HCBs quotes exist in no context.

      Hats off to you for reading the book.

      For those of you who have not read the book yet, be sure to study his photos first. The book has a handful of images, but assumes that if you are a serious student of HCB you know his work by heart.


  6. Adam, I really appreciate the time you take to write these articles correllating the history of art to photography. As a former painter I have begun to notice how the two art forms are related thanks to your efforts. I noticed that Degas and Manet have made paintings that could be easily translated into “street photography”. It has inspired me to set up my photography and be aware of the entire picture plane. All the best to you!

  7. Hello,
    Thanks for your articles.
    I’m just back from Venezia, tried, with lot of humility, to capture some real Veneziani life.
    At this time there is not too much tourists. But the light was not easy.
    I’ll try not to be ashamed and send you some photos, I’d be glad you tell me some critics.

  8. Brilliant, Adam. Brilliant :-) .


  9. Husband was in the Verona area for several weeks working. He’s been talking about going back to vacation to show me things. He was more impressed with the castles and churches, the graveyards than the typical tourist sites. He didn’t stay in the city but a distance away at a quaint bed and breakfast not far from Castle Sirmione on Lake Garda. He stayed away from the more commercial areas though did visit Venezia and Murano and basically went where the locals there told him to go.

    Sargent’s paintings really could be photos. I have to grin every time someone discovers something new [like street photography] because almost assuredly someone’s already done it, maybe just a little differently. It’s a nice connect between past and present though. Every time I read one of your studies/posts I come away with a little more of that connection which is why I keep coming back I guess. Thanks!

    • Hey Kristen,

      Verona is a brilliant place to visit. I hope you take him up on the offer to spend time there. The area around Verona is outstanding and not sure if you drink wine but you will be in the heart of Valpolicella country. This means that the Ripasso’s and the Amarone estates around Verona will be ripe for the picking.

      I am actually running a 5 day workshop (yet to be announced) between Venice and Verona this September. Its a great time of year and the tourist traffic slows down after the summer.

      The castles and bridges are fantastic. There are so many quiet nooks and crannies to explore. And if you get a chance try some Monte Verona cheese. It is the local equivalent of Parmigiano Reggiano.

      If you have a chance to look through more of Sargents images, the street scenes will literally jump out at you. He was a brilliant street designer and I am thrilled that you are able to see the direct connection between his work and street photography. HCB was certainly influenced by his work. Sargent spent a considerable amount of time in Paris and made a massive impression on the artistic community. That being said he jumped town after the Madame X scandal, but HCB would have looked at his work as a young artist.

      As for all the young street photographers making discoveries…my suggestion is to keep smiling. Once they are ready to see their work connected to a long legacy of artists, they will find you. Past, Present and Future are a linear illusion.

      Until next time…


  10. Hi Adam
    Very interesting and thought provoking article on Sargent. I had only seen the odd example of his work before. I will now endeavour to seek out some more. What struck me with his framing or cropping was that it is very ‘camera’ like. Did he use, or practice photography? In the ‘Girl with fan’ picture, there is a black square top right of the picture. As a photographer one would be stuck with it. One could could frame it slightly differently to lessen it etc. But as an artist one could leave it out or change it to something else. It needs to be there to some extent for balance. But, I’m intrigued it gives the image a ‘photograph look’. Are you familiar with the work of Simon Norfolk? In particular ‘Chronotopia’. He draws on influences from 17c paintings. A photographer using the rich visual heritage of the past.
    Anyway, sorry to babble, must get on with some work.

    • Hi Malcolm,

      My apologies for the long delay. As far as I know Sargent did not use a camera. they were certainly around during his day. There was a famous photo house in Florence called Alenari who used to sell pictures to travelers. He would have seen these images and there was a collection of pictures from Venice. But side my side Sargent blows them out of the water. Looking at his pictures shows us how Design is so critical to a successful piece of art work. There are a number of 19th century artists who are very photographic, but never used a camera. Have a look at the wide angle perspectives of Gustave Caillibotte. They will make owners of 21mm and 24mm lenses drool.

      The black box you speak of is an odd detail. At the time there would have been framed pictures on the walls. However the picture below is much stronger design wise. At least it is not a white spot, but he was experimenting with scenes that looked off handed and more casual. Some are more successful than others.

      And yes I have seen Norfolk’s work. What is his connection to 17th Century painting? Curious to know if there is a deeper level of meaning.

      No worries about babbling. This is a place for random thoughts on art and photography. All ideas are welcome.


  11. Lately, I have been looking into painting for guide to light and composition for my photography. I was inspired by your earlier articles on the golden section studies which you overlaid it on HCB’s photos.I was always a fan of Sargent’s work – both portraits and street scenes. I love how you’ve made the connection to street photography. His images are great studies for composition and light within a frame.
    Kind regards,

    • Hi Elizabeth,

      Thank you for the kind words. Its fun/exciting to see the dots connect for people. There are so many precursors to photography that never get attention.

      Painting and drawing inform the world of photography so heavily, but are not always taught. While there were some draw backs to the “Classical” model of artistic education, the pluses certainly out weighed the minuses.

      As you look at more paintings it will become clear that figures like Sargent were miles ahead of the photography game. Their gamuts, idioms, and general economy with mark making was outstanding. And his observations on light and color will bend your mind for years to come. Camera sensors still have a vey long way to go (but dont tell the engineers I said so)

      If you have any more questions feel free to write me.


  12. Hi Adam

    What a stunning article with my favourite subject – street – and one of my favourite painters (especially Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose @ the Tate Britain as you know). I am ashamed to say I had not seen most of his other works. This will inspire me to investigate the topic and paintings further and to look carefully for the origins of street!…. Thanks for the inspiration. best Richard

  13. Thanks for this article. I knew Sargent, I even studied some of his works by copying them. I love him, and I’m a true venetian ;) We still exist, we are proud, we are free and governed by a bunch of ignorant a……s who for the majority come from the countryside, and can’t think at anything else for this city other than the monoculture of tourism. Sorry, digressing… What I wanted to say is that I have this project, called “People’s Republic of Venice”. It’s a work in progress, I’m uploading new photos almost everyday, and I’m trying to depict the…people who live in our city… I’m using 500px for it, and my website, PhotoAPR I’m pretty sure that I’m the only venetian at the moment doing this kind of work on a consistent and daily base. We are still here, we aren’t going anywhere, when we will go for good, the city will go with us. :)

    • Ciao Agostino,

      Sei un Veneziano DOC, vero? Thats very cool. One of the few. Looks like a great project, I wish you the best of luck with it. The images could turn into a compelling historical account of a changing city. Venizia must be one of the most misunderstood cities in all of Italy. Personally I think they should BAN the large cruise ships and raise the daily tax. The town is thoughtlessly stomped upon by hoards of travelers daily. In my mind the entire city is like a church, which should be enter in silence, with reverence.

      Maybe we will see you at the workshop in September.

      A dopo-Adam

  14. If there is a Sargent in a museum nearby, get up now and go.

  15. As an advocate of Street Photography being an art form rather than documentary based on the inherent differences in the intentions of the two, I totally enjoyed and identified with your article.

    I completely agree too that photography’s roots, even street photography’s, can be traced back to painting. But what is most interesting about comparing photography and painting is that, while photography captures an instant of how something looks, painting is an accumulation of multiple moments as seen by the painter over the period of time it takes to complete the painting.

    “A photograph is static because it has stopped time, A drawing or painting is static because it encompasses time” – John Berger

    • Great quote selection by Berger. I believe we are on the same page.

      Thanks for including your link. I will give it a read on my flight this afternoon.

      Photographers have a world of information at their disposal, only if someone begins to translate painting into a language they understand. I feel as if the myth is that people inherently “get” how to make a picture. Its total non-sense. Any high level professional is trained. Its a long lineage that was passed to us, which we will give to the next generation. : )


  16. I just stumbled across this article today and read it avidly! Thanks so much for an excellent and compelling look at a great artist and his compositions. My husband and I are going to Venice next week and I rejoice to think I’ll be walking in the footsteps of not only Sargent, but his confreres Henry James, Constance Fenimore Woolson, Whistler, etc. I have written a novel about JSS titled “Portraits of an Artist” which will be published in January 2013 by Sand Hill Review Press – my publisher was fantastic about using a LOT (22!) of Sargent’s portraits in the book (of course we had to pay several museums for repro rights) as the “portraits” of his friends and family are the characters in the book who tell the story. Anyway, with your permission, when I’ve got my new Sargent blog up and running, I would love to put this as a link there and on my website – this is a terrific article for both art lovers and photographers alike. Thanks so much. Mary F. Burns, San Francisco

  17. I don’t know whether it’s just me or if everybody else experiencing problems with your blog.
    It appears like some of the text on your posts are running off the screen. Can someone else please comment and let
    me know if this is happening to them as well? This could be a problem with my
    web browser because I’ve had this happen previously. Appreciate it

    • Hi Metal Producer,
      We just looked and could not re-create or find any issue, are you on a mobile device, laptop or desktop?

  18. Right away I am going away to ddo my breakfast, afterward having my breakfast coming again to read other news.

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