Sketch of a Spanish Dancer - John Singer Sargent 1879
Pencil on paper, 11 1/2 x 9 in
If you've always associated Sargent only with a masterly, vibrant painting style, think again.
Underlying Sargent's painting was a passion for drawing which began at the age of four and lasted almost until his death at 69.
“He did every type of drawing, did them individually as works of art and as preparatory drawings for paintings...I think, for him, drawing was the basis of everything.”
Take a class with Sargent on how to draw - with a brush!
“You must draw with your brush as readily, as unconsciously almost, as you draw with your pencil,”
This particular drawing was one of a series of sketches of Spanish dancers and musicians - including very detailed studies of heads and hands - done by Sargent in the late 1870's and early 1880's, after visiting North Africa and Spain.
El Jaleo - John Singer Sargent, 1882
Oil on canvas 237 x 352 cm (Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston)
The intensity and energy of his preparatory drawings eventually cumulated in Sargent painting 'El Jaleo' which Richard Ormond, Sargent’s grandnephew and one of the leeading authorities on the artist, describes as,
"…a kind of big sketch with all of these little sketches worked out in it.”
In Spanish, the word 'jaleo' as well as referring to a folkloric dance known as 'el Jaleo de Jeréz', also means a ruckus or uproar and the energy of that is certainly contained in the lines of this sketch of Sargent's.
Watch: To see el Jaleo de Jeréz in action
So if you've been in need of inspiration to get out your pencil, this gesture drawing by John Singer Sargent is IT. May I suggest a little Spanish music as accompaniment?