Sargent: The Watercolours

Watch our exhibition preview video presented by co-curator and Sargent's Grand-Nephew Richard Ormond.

"...a triumph and revelation" - Financial Times

"Utterly absorbing" - Evening Standard

"Pictures made for pleasure" - The Times

"...unbelievable ability" - Time Out

The first UK show in nearly 100 years devoted to watercolours by the Anglo-American artist, John Singer Sargent (1856-1925).

Renowned as the portraitist of his generation, Sargent also devoted time to developing his talent in watercolour, undertaking several painting expeditions to Europe in the early twentieth century. Free from the constraints of his studio he was able to take inspiration from the places he visited – from the streams and glacial moraines in The Alps to the renaissance and baroque architecture he explored in Venice. Working en plein air, Sargent developed a distinctive way of seeing and composing, his subjects often appearing fragmented and disorienting – an expression of his personal, modern aesthetic.

Frequently dismissed as travel souvenirs, Sargent’s watercolours dazzle with light and colour, demonstrating a technical brilliance and striking individuality, offering an alternative perspective on the artist. This exhibition brings together 80 paintings from private and public collections, revealing Sargent’s idiosyncratic view of the world and the scale of his achievement.

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Early Introductions: Sargent: The Watercolours
30 June, 8.30am - 10am, £15.50 / £14.50 / Children FREE
Book here →

Gain exclusive access to the exhibition before opening hours in a family-friendly viewing, including an art-and-play session in the Gallery.

Sargent: Sonatas. The Florentine Arts Ensemble
30 July, 7.30pm, £20 / £18 / £6 Under 18s
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Enjoy violin sonatas by greats including Fauré, Debussy and Ravel. Interspersed during the evening will be recollections of Sargent’s pianistic skills, including those of his regular partner, the American violinist, Charles Loeffler.


Official Paint Partner

Media Partner

Image Credits: John Singer Sargent, The Lady with the Umbrella, (detail) 1911, Museu de Montserrat. Donated by J. Sala Ardiz. Image © Dani Rovira
John Singer Sargent, Santa Maria della Salute, Venice, c. 1880-1920, watercolour and pencil on paper, 45.7 x 30.5 cm, Victoria and Albert Museum. Given by Mrs Ormond and Miss Sargent in memory of their brother. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London 
John Singer Sargent, Mountain Brook, 1909-11 (detail), Watercolour on paper, over prelminary pencil, with touches of body colour, 35.6 x 25.4 cm, Private Collection.
John Singer Sargent, A Turkish Woman by a Stream, c. 1907, watercolour on paper, over preliminary pencil, with touches of body colour, 35.9 x 50.8 cm, Victoria and Albert Museum. Bequeathed by Miss Dorothy Barnard. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

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Event details

Start date
21 June 2017
End date
8 October 2017
10am - 5pm, Tuesday - Sunday (Closed Mondays except Bank Holidays)
£15.50 Adult; £14.50 Senior Citizens; £7 Concessions (students, disabled, ES40, Art Fund & Museums Association Members); FREE: Children, Friends