Comparisons to Monet Bothered This Artist. Now They’re Side by Side.
“Monet’s Garden” — 1848, 1872, 1885.
John Singer Sargent
One has to imagine that Monet is at least an average genius, and that the artist who created more than 150 watercolors was a genius. Sargent, born in Paris in 1856, was the son of a French banker. Both parents, he says, took great pleasure in his studio. “They wanted him to learn what they didn’t know, and to appreciate what they could not see,” Sargent writes in his memoir, which he wrote while he was a professor at the Art Students League in New York from 1875 to 1882.
After completing high school, Sargent went to France to attend the École Normale Supérieure (the French equivalent of the Yale School of Drama) with his sister. But he found himself drawn to Paris in 1869, and began a passionate affair with the city that lasted 30 years. He lived and worked there for more than 20 years, and was known for painting the city in what are by modern standards overblown moods. I.e., it was an artist’s version of a dream.
Sargent loved to paint streets full of people. “The people were a huge part of the city.”
This obsession with people and their ways is evident in “Monet’s Garden,” one of his best-known pictures, now on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, near Washington Square. The painting portrays what the Met calls “a busy city scene” in the late 19th century, with all manner of people and activities going on around the Monet family’s garden. I think that’s why it’s called “Monet�