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Museum of Fine Arts Boston opens John Singer Sargent Watercolors exhibition

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston presents John Singer Sargent Watercolors an exhibition on view on view through January 20, 2014.

John Singer Sargent Gourds
John Singer Sargent (American, 1856–1925). Gourds, 1908. Opaque and translucent watercolor with graphite underdrawing, 14 x 22 in. (35.6 x 55.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by Special Subscription, 09.822

The exhibition allows visitors to see Sargent reinvent himself as an artist for the 20th century as he mastered the watercolor medium. The 92 watercolors on display were made during Sargent’s painting trips throughout the Mediterranean and the Middle East, and they include stunning portrayals of Venetian architecture, Bedouin camps, villa gardens, intertwined figures and sun-struck stone. To provide additional insight, 10 Sargent oil paintings are also on view, and for comparison, four by Sargent’s friend Edward Darley Boit and three by British watercolorists. Tickets can be purchased at and include all-day access to the Museum along with a repeat visit within 10 days. MFA members, who always visit free, can see the exhibition first during Member Preview Days (October 8-12) and receive priority access to the show. John Singer Sargent Watercolors is sponsored by long-time partner Bank of America.

Born in Italy to American parents, Sargent (1856–1925) considered Boston his American home. He first earned fame for his portraits, among them the masterpiece The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit (1882), which is on view in the MFA’s Art of the Americas Wing in a gallery dedicated to the painter. As he evolved as an artist, he developed his skill as a watercolorist, making dynamic images of landscapes and figures. Saying “they give me pleasure to do and pleasure to keep,” Sargent participated in only two major watercolor exhibitions in the United States during his lifetime. The first, held in New York and Boston in 1909, caused a sensation, with its entire contents quickly purchased by the Brooklyn Museum. The equally acclaimed second show in 1912 was bought out by the MFA even before it opened. Sargent’s wish that his watercolors go only as complete sets to a single museum was fulfilled. Thus the watercolors in the exhibition, united here for the first time, were personally selected by Sargent to represent his finest efforts in the medium.

For more information, visit or call 617.267.9300. The MFA is located on the Avenue of the Arts at 465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115.