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 John Singer Sargent (1856–1925). Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose, 1886. 
Tate Gallery. London. 


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Video : John Singer Sargent. Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose, 1886. 

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John Singer Sargent (1856–1925). Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose, 1886. Tate Gallery. London. 

All the painters know that if it is conditions where it is difficult to paint it is in the twilight. The light, at this time, varies so much quickly that it is rather hard to reproduce the true tone of the colours. However they are these moments, with the rising and laying down sun quite simply, that the impressionists seek, because the colours precisely have strange and unusual tonalities. 
During a walk in boat on the Thames, in September 1885, John Singer Sargent sees Chinese lanterns hung among trees and lilies on the bank of the river. 
This gives him the idea of the painting. It begins it in the home of his friend painter F.D. Millet in Broadway in Worcestershire. 
At the beginning its model is Catherine the girl of the 5 years old Millet replaced then by Polly and Dorothy Barnard, the girls of the illustrator Frederick Barnard, because they have the colour of hair that Sargent seeks. He paints outside with the manner of the impressionists from September at November 1885, then, again at the Millet, in Broadway, during the summer 1886, and, during certain hours in October of the same year. The painter can work only a few minutes each evening, when the light is exactly that which he seeks. He places his rest and his painting in advance and makes pose his models in preparation for the few minutes when he can reproduce the mauve light of the twilight. As the autumn arrives it replaces the flowers died by artificial flowers. The painting is at the same time a portrait and a landscape. The portrait of the little girls is realistic and traditional, one knows the talent of Sargent for the portraits, the landscape and the flowers are impressionist. Sargent, friend of Monet, know his picture painted in 1867 Camille Monet in the Garden of Argenteuil where Camille appears among the trees and the flowers in the middle of the blue light of an end according to midday. John Singer Sargent wants to still represent one later moment, the twilight, the moment when the sunlight disappears, and as the little girls are lighting lanterns it is also necessary to represent this particular, red light orange, on the face of his models. The painting is of an exquisite softness, this kind of lighting seen forever in painting. The painting is acclaimed with the exposure of the Royal Academy in 1887. The Tate Gallery becomes purchaser immediately from there. 
The title of work comes from the song “'The Wreath'”, of the type-setter of Opera of the 18th century Joseph Mazzinghi. Sargent and its friends often sang it around the piano at the home of Millet in Broadway. The refrain of the song asks the question “ Have you seen my Flora pass this way ?” to which the answer is : “ Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose “.

The point of view of the spectator is located at the level of the face of the young girls. 

Way of the glance.

1/ The glance is first of all attracted by the face of the 2 little girls. 
2/ Then he notices the lilies in top, imposing by their size, which are detached among the lanterns. 
3/ Then the glance goes down again towards the eyelets and the roses. 

The 2 little girls are on the 4 natural points of interest, surrounded of the 4 tension fields of the picture.

Light and space. 

The lanterns are located in the 2/3 of the higher pictorial space, which profits from their orange light. The third remaining, lower pictorial space is enlightened only by the light of the twilight. The grass and the sheets of the plants are thus sometimes green but often blue.


The guiding lines are vertical and oblique except with regard to the lanterns which are either round or oval. The vertical lines symbolize the round stem and lines the flower. 
All evokes the plants on this table even the principal guiding lines. 

In the foreground the little girl trampled space and the painter does not forget to represent a circle around his character who is encircled by grass.

Details : 

John Singer Sargent carried out this face among the flowers with much of precision and realism. The end of the fingers and the face of the model are lit by the lantern. 

This little girl seems very attentive so that it makes. Right-sided of its face and its hair are lit by the orange light of the Chinese lantern. In lower part the hand which supports the lantern is so enlightened that it seems deformed. 

The lilies, like all the flowers, are represented in an impressionist way. It is noticed that certain sheets, enlightened by the light of the twilight are completely blue. 

Light : 

With the sleeping bottom of the fabric the sunlight comes from the right-hand side. Higher the light of at least 8 lanterns lights work in any direction and emphasizes the flowers and the children. 

Colours : Contrast between hot and cold colours.

Harmonize and contrasts : Contrast between colours 
complementary. The hot colours are gathered in the center.

Similar Painting : 

Claude Monet. Camille in the Garden of Argenteuil. 1867.

John Singer Sargent. Jacques Barenton. 1883.

John Singer Sargent. Siesta. 1905.