A Young Boy Lying on a Cushion
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John Singer SARGENT

A Young Boy Lying on a Cushion

Stephen Ongpin Fine Art

Medium Watercolour on buff paper

Dimension 24.6 x 33 cm (9⁵/₈ x 13 inches)

John Singer Sargent produced numerous vibrant watercolours over his long career. The present sheet is likely to have been drawn in Venice, which Sargent visited numerous times over a period of more than forty years. He first saw the city while travelling with his parents in 1870, at the age of fourteen, and his last visit took place in 1913. The artist had a lifelong love affair with the city on the lagoon, of which he produced numerous watercolours and paintings, particularly in the early 1880s and from the late 1890s through to the first decade of the 20th century.

As Richard Ormond and Elaine Kilmurray note of the present sheet, ‘This intimate study of a young boy resting, with lips parted, is similar to other heads of Venetian models…Assuming that Venice is the location, it is probable that the boy is a local inhabitant rather than the son of one of the artist’s friends.’

This watercolour bears the artist’s dedication to his friend, the wealthy Chilean politician, diplomat and amateur painter Ramón Subercaseaux Vicuña (1854-1937), who served as the Chilean consul in Paris from 1874. In 1880 Subercaseaux commissioned Sargent to paint a full-length portrait of his wife, Amalia Errázuriz Subercaseaux, which won the artist a second-class medal at the Paris Salon the following year. When, in September 1880, Sargent rented a studio on the Grand Canal in Venice, Ramón Subercaseaux was one of the artists who joined him there. During this period, Sargent painted a portrait of Subercaseaux sketching in a gondola; a painting now in the Dixon Gallery and Gardens in Memphis, Tennessee.

This drawing was later inherited by Subercaseaux’s grandson, Gabriel Valdés Subercaseaux (1919-2011), who served for many years as a Minister of Foreign Affairs and a senator in Chile and, upon his retirement, as the Chilean ambassador to Italy between 2006 and 2008.

Medium: Watercolour on buff paper

Signature: Signed and dedicated a mon ami Subercaseaux / John S. Sargent. at the upper centre and upper left.

Dimension: 24.6 x 33 cm (9⁵/₈ x 13 inches)

Provenance: Presented by the artist to Ramón Subercaseaux, Paris
By descent to his grandson, Gabriel Valdés Subercaseaux, Santiago and New York, until 1963
His sale, London, Christie’s, 26 April 1963, lot 108 (bt. Fitch)
Private collection, Italy.

Literature: Richard Ormond and Elaine Kilmurray, John Singer Sargent: Figures and Landscapes, 1874-1882. Complete Paintings, Volume IV, New Haven and London, 2006, p.385, p.422, no.836 (where dated c.1880-1881).

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