John Singer Sargent - Incensing the Veil, 1880

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(Florence, 1856 - 1925, London)

Object details

Accession number

P3w33

Primary Creator

John Singer Sargent

Full title

Incensing the Veil

Creation Date

1880

Provenance

Gift from John Singer Sargent to Dr. Samuel Pozzi (1846–1918), French surgeon and gynecologist.
Knoedler & Co., New York purchased at the auction of Pozzi's collection, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, 23-24 June 1919, lot 24.
Purchased by Isabella Stewart Gardner from the art dealer Daniel H. Farr, Philadelphia on 17 November 1919 for $1,950. (as "Mauresque")

Marks

Inscribed and signed in pencil (bottom right): à Pozzi, souvenir amical John S. Sargent
Inscribed in ink (verso): N.16; E(sic) 44-55

Dimensions

31.1 x 19.7 cm (12 1/4 x 7 3/4 in.)

Display Media

Watercolor on paper

Dimension Notes

Frame: 60.5 cm x 50 cm (23 13/16 in. x 19 11/16 in.)

Web Commentary

This copy of an earlier oil painting (Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA) is inscribed to Sargent’s friend Samuel Pozzi, who assembled one of the most important collections of Sargent’s work. Isabella Stewart Gardner purchased it after Pozzi’s death. The picture shows a Northern African woman inhaling the smoke of ambergris burning in the small brazier in front of her. The sweet-smelling incense was believed to ward off evil spirits and also served as an aphrodisiac.

Source: Oliver Tostmann and Anne-Marie Eze, The Inscrutable Eye: Watercolors by John Singer Sargent in Isabella Stewart Gardner’s Collection, exhibition on view in the Museum's Fenway Gallery, October 31, 2013–January 20, 2014.

Permanent Gallery Location

Blue Room

Bibliography

Gilbert Wendel Longstreet and Morris Carter. General Catalogue (Boston, 1935), p. 35.
Philip Hendy. European and American Paintings in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 1974), pp. 227-28.
Mary Crawford Volk. John Singer Sargent’s El Jaleo. Exh. cat. (Boston: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum; Washington DC: National Gallery of Art, 1992), p. 27, fig. 3.
Richard Ormond and Elaine Kilmurray. John Singer Sargent: Figures and Landscapes, 1871–1882. Complete Paintings Volume IV. (New Haven and London, 2006), p. 305, cat. 791.
Kathleen A. Foster. American Watercolor in the Age of Homer and Sargent. Exh. cat. (Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2017), pp. 192-93, fig. 160.
Emily Eells and Stephen Coon. "Sargent and Proust: An Elusive Mouvance." Visual Culture in Britain (March 2018), pp. 53, 55, fig. 3.

Rights and reproductions

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Commentary

This copy of an earlier oil painting (Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA) is inscribed to Sargent’s friend Samuel Pozzi, who assembled one of the most important collections of Sargent’s work. Isabella Stewart Gardner purchased it after Pozzi’s death. The picture shows a Northern African woman inhaling the smoke of ambergris burning in the small brazier in front of her. The sweet-smelling incense was believed to ward off evil spirits and also served as an aphrodisiac.

Source: Oliver Tostmann and Anne-Marie Eze, The Inscrutable Eye: Watercolors by John Singer Sargent in Isabella Stewart Gardner’s Collection, exhibition on view in the Museum's Fenway Gallery, October 31, 2013–January 20, 2014.