Carnation Lily Lily Rose

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John Singer Sargent, Carnation Lily Lily Rose, 1885-7
By MADELINE VASQUEZ

John Singer Sargent, a realist, was well known for his paintings of portraits. His portraits helped “secure or mark social position, endorse fame, chronicle genealogical distinctions, and rehearse personal memory “ ("Portraiture" 35). But, he was an artist who was able to express his style through other styles of art. His skills were thus presented through murals, landscapes, portraits, and watercolors. Traveling from place to place allowed him to fully soak in the reality of our world and incorporate the knowledge he received through the people he painted. Diego Velasquez and Frans Hal were two of Sargent’s inspirations and received a lot of help at The Ecole des Beaux Arts, where he learned to master older techniques. 

In Carnation Lily Lily Rose, Sargent took the inspiration from a trip that he took along the Thames River. In the distance, he saw a garden of lilies with Chinese lanterns hanging overhead. He used the natural lighting of the sun to create the highlights within his painting, which only allowed him to paint over a short period of time each day when the light hit the canvas. There is movement of the grass while the the white dresses the girls are wearing are standing still. The young girls reflect childhood innocence and how they are living in a world of their own. This relates to how"...a man's ideal of women- delicate, dignified, pure, and fair to look upon" ("The Gilded Age" 30). Although these are not women, they show how women are percieved. When he painted it, he wanted it to not only appeal to British audiences, but also lovers of the Impressionist movement. 

When the painting was first revealed to the studio, they thought it to be a threat. But, Sargent's noteworthy skills impressed them. They related the composition of Carnation Lily Lily Rose to images of mythology. Sargent enjoyed painting this work so much which is why it took him almost two years to complete it. The talent and beauty captured through the stroke of his paintbrush showed through the painting as a whole. 

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