Wednesday, April 1, 2020

"Front Row Seat"

18 x 7"
oil on panel

John Singer Sargent's El Jaleo has to be in the Top-50-Best works of American art in my humble opinion.  Its home is in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, a museum that is in and of itself a work of art.   The painting is a massive 12' by 7' canvas, not including the frame.  It hangs in a darkened niche at the end of a long hallway.  As you approach it and step into this cramped, intimate space, you feel like the luckiest person on earth viewing this masterpiece in splendid solitude.

Sargent had a fascination with Spain, spending 5 months traveling thru Spain and North Africa in 1879.  He spent months completing El Jaleo, referring back to numerous sketches he made on his trip, paying special attention to the dancer's movements and the drapery of her dress.  The dancer moves from left to right, accompanied by musicians and dancers seated along the wall.  

El Jaleo is Spanish for the lively solo dance with castanets.  When Sargent entered the painting in the Paris Salon in 1882, the full title was El Jaleo: Danse des Gitanes (Dance of the Gypsies).  Six years later, the wealthy art collector Isabella Stewart Gardner purchased it from another collector.

Please click here for a larger view.

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