Thoughts on all things garden themed from an antique dealer gone amuck! I write, play with the dogs, and fill my house with garden art. There is hardly time to work the dirt!

Copyright 2010-2013 Barbara Barth, Writer With Dogs

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose by John Singer Sargent

A favorite painting!

You see this image everywhere! It is copied by other artists (I am lucky to have a Sunday Artist's version in my collection. See at the end.) and has been reproduced on everything from tote bags to posters. I did a bit of research and thought I'd share it with you.

Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose (Tate Gallery, London), a painting of light and mood , is the masterpiece of John Singer Sargent's early English career. The inspiration for this painting came during a boating trip Sargent took on the Thames at Pangbourne in September 1885, during which he saw Chinese lanterns hanging amoung trees and lilies. He began his work while staying at the home of the painter F.D. Millet at Broadway, Worcestershire, soon after his move to Britain from Paris. His first model was the Millet's five-year-old daughter Katharine, but she was soon replaced by Polly and Dolly Barnard, daughters of illustrator Frederick Barnard. They had the exact hair color Sargent was seeking. Dolly, 11, is on the left and Polly, 7, is on the right.

He worked on the picture, one of the few figure compositions he ever made out of doors in the Impressionist manner, from September to early November 1885, and again at the Millets's new home, Russell House, Broadway, during the summer of 1886, completing it some time in October. Sargent was able to work for only a few minutes each evening when the light was exactly right. He would place his easel and paints beforehand, and pose his models in anticipation of the few moments when he could paint the mauvish light of dusk. As autumn came and the flowers died, he was forced to replace the blossoms with artificial flowers.  Read more on the Tate Britain.

Artist Inspired

Luther Emerson Van Gorder's 1895 Japanese Lanterns

Luther Emerson Van Gorder's  (American, 1861–1931) 1895 Japanese Lanterns at the Tweed  Museum of Art was clearly modeled after Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose and is one of their most popular paintings.

Some charming modern artist versions and a link to their websites.

Replica by Christian Flores-Cordova. Link here.

Student artist Jessica Reed (Coco-Puppy-Fluffy on

My own modern Sunday Artist version, acrylic on canvas, no signature, found online at Ebay.

 And detail

Not only are artists inspired by this painting, but a children's book has been written on the story behind the painting.

Written by Hugh Brewster, illustrated by John Singer Sargent, published in 2007. Available on Amazon.   Young Kate Millet is the model for the painting John Singer Sargent is working on in her parents' garden. Everyone says she is posing well, even though she finds it very hard to stand still. Then, one of her father's friends arrives with his two daughters. They're older, taller and have lighter hair than Kate. Sargent decides to use them as models instead. Kate is devastated. Based on numerous letters and recollections from the period, Hugh Brewster's story describes Kate's disappointment, the many difficulties experienced by the painter through the long artistic process, Kate's reconciliation with him and how she is immortalized on canvas after all. Illustrated with over 35 of Sargent's paintings and sketches, Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose recreates the 1880s milieu of the famed American painter during an extended trip to England, and the thoughts and days of a girl who was there alongside him.

A beautiful English garden in Toronto was the scene of the book's launch party, September 2007. View photos from the party here.

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely post! Sweet renditions of the original painting.

    Thanks for sharing ~ FlowerLady