National Gallery of Art Custom Prints

John Singer Sargent

Simplon Pass, 1911

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About the Artwork

The demands placed on John Singer Sargent by his unparalleled success as a painter of Gilded Age portraits on both sides of the Atlantic began to tire him soon after the turn of the 20th century. In 1907–1908 he declared that he was "shutting up shop in the portrait line" to focus on landscapes, informal figure studies (including Nonchaloir [Repose], 1911, National Gallery of Art), and mural paintings.

The artist undertook his landscape and figure paintings in oils and watercolors on many leisure visits to picturesque locales with friends and relatives, including this great Alpine pass in Switzerland near the border of Italy. He probably visited and sketched the view depicted in Simplon Pass as early as 1904, and returned for extended visits in 1909, 1910, and 1911. More than simply a document of the distinctive silhouette of the Hübschhorn and its surroundings, the view is a study of the clear Alpine light and air on the rocky terrain. The seemingly infinite variety of brushwork that endowed Sargent's vibrant portraits also enlivens this landscape (and others like it), describing the rushing stream at left, the colorful vegetation, and the dazzling sunlight sweeping across the foreground. The darker, drily brushed middle ground sets off the majestic peak. Here, too, light and shade define strong masses; while the mountain is mostly in deep shadow, passages of mauve emphasize its steep face. Thin, hazy clouds and pockets of snow connect its long slope to the brilliant sky above, which in turn harkens back to the sunlit foreground.

Sargent's deft manipulation of the painting's registers did not go unnoticed. When wealthy Ohio industrialist James Parmelee lent the painting to the Corcoran Gallery of Art in 1914, one critic deemed the canvas "brilliant and self-assured . . . [the artist] has outdone himself in juggling with perspective, and [gives] the result a look of spontaneous unconcern."

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About Our Prints

National Gallery of Art Custom Prints is your exclusive source for custom reproductions authorized and available for purchase directly from the National Gallery of Art. All items that are offered are produced using gallery-quality materials and the color is managed in a manner that produces a reproduction as true to the original as modern technology will allow.
Many of the works offered through this store are exclusive and not available anywhere else. In addition, new works are continually added to the offering, so come back often to see our new releases.
You have found the work that speaks to you. Now what? Using our innovative custom framing tool you can preview exactly what your finished and framed art will look like. We offer many different moulding styles so there is sure to be a match for any type of decor.

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Circle Members will receive a 20% discount for all Custom Prints orders processed through our kiosk or website. During the checkout process, enter the coupon code you received from the membership office and your discount will be applied.