Although Sargent had always been adept at watercolor, later in his career he used the medium as an end in itself rather than as a preparatory stage for oil paintings. At that time, galleries and reviewers focused on his oils, believing watercolors to be unplanned, unfinished works. But Sargent found watercolors more suited to his travels, as they required less preparation and equipment. Watercolors were ideal for depicting the sparkling water of Venice, the snowy peaks of the Alps, or the shimmering heat of the Middle East.
Artist in the Simplon, ca. 1910–11, detail
Watercolor and graphite on paper, 40.5 x 53.2 cm
Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University Art Museums, Gift of Grenville L. Winthrop, Class of 1886
The Triumph of Religion