Vibrant Watercolours From Around The World In Dulwich

Sargent Watercolours, Dulwich Picture Gallery ★★★★☆

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 84 months ago

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Last Updated 25 June 2017

Vibrant Watercolours From Around The World In Dulwich Sargent Watercolours, Dulwich Picture Gallery 4
The church of Santa Maria della Salute in Venice. © Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon. Photo: Catarina Gomes Ferreira

A Venetian palace gleams as the sun reflects off its white walls. Look down at the beautiful blue water lapping at the building's edge, and then up again to the grimy mossy walls where the two meet. The colours are so vivid that it makes us wish we really were in Venice.

Anglo-American painter John Singer Sargent is best known as a portrait painter, capturing the who's who of his time. In truth we're rather apathethic towards his portraiture as it's more celeb spotting than a true appreciation of painting.

A vivid image of a Turkish woman by a stream. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

This exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery looks at his watercolours, where he painted everything from the dusky colours of the dead sea to bright blue skies and water in Majorca, dissected by the sun-bleached white of some sailboats.

It's great to see a freer side to Sargent, less concerned with commissions and capturing likeness, and more about expressive brushstrokes and opting for colour over accuracy.

The greens are just as captivating as the blues. Courtesy Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums Collections

His landscapes are breathtaking and his animals surreal. The final room of portraiture is where this exhibition unravels a little, as the loose style and lack of detail simply doesn't suit portraiture. Thankfully the landscapes dominate the show and that's what visitors should spend the most time on as they are superb.

This is an aspect of the artist's portfolio we weren't familiar with, and we're glad to see this sparkling sumptuous side to Sargent.

Sargent captures how Spanish sunlight is different to Venetian.

Sargent: The Watercolours at Dulwich Picture Gallery is on until 8 October. Tickets are £15.50 for adults, concessions available.

Visitors should also visit the gallery's brilliant new pavilion.