Tuesday, September 4, 2012

John Singer Sargent and the pursuit of happiness-


Camp at Lake O'Hara, watercolor, 1916

Late summer 1916- almost a hundred years ago, John Singer Sargent camped at the Canadian Rocky Mountains and painted Lake O'Hara. In his words:
" it was raining or snowing, my tent flooded, mushrooms sprouting in my boots, porcupines taking shelter in my clothes, canned food always fried in a black frying pan getting on my nerves, and a fine waterfall which was the attraction to the place pounding and thundering all night. I stood it for three weeks and yesterday came away with a repulsive picture. Now the weather has changed for the better and I am off again to try the simple life (ach pfui) in tents at the top of another valley, this time with a gridiron instead of a frying pan and a perforated India rubber mat to stand on. It takes time to learn how to be really happy." (From this book here.)
There is a photograph of Sargent in the book, he is painting with an umbrella strapped to his lower leg. I thought it completed the image of his mind's map.
I am happy just reading this, and delighting in the watercolor above.
Lovely man.
(late summer 2013, Lake O'Hara, tents, gridirons, paintbrushes, hats, umbrellas, friends with musical instruments, ...anyone?)



Kathleen Maunder said...

I love the mushroom and porcupine references. It really makes it hard to complain about anything here. Thanks for sharing the story and painting.

Paravent said...

Oh how fabulous! It does take time to learn how to be happy :) Thanks for sharing this Annamaria. Kx

S said...

First of all, thanks for sharing this wonderful art ! I loved reading about the background story behind this art work. I looked up the book "Sargent: Painting Out-of-Doors" in amazon.com. I love to read these kinds of books where the narrator describes his relation to nature,to his surroundings and a vivid description of various sights and smells!
have a lovely day !

erleichda said...

Ah! How true
"It takes time to learn how to be really happy"

I would love to join you Annamaria : )

Kim Baise said...

ohhh i had missed this post! what an amazing painting of sargent w/contrast glowing skyline of trees and the book of his adventures is so visual. i would love to take time to read more of it....i need to read more books.

juliefordoliver.blogspot.com said...

This is a delightful post. Thank you.
I recall reading how sargent strapped the umbrella to his leg and it gave me the idea of placing a small umbrella I had taken the handle off, and sliding it down my back or front, to the waist and the bra keeping it in place. Works great!