John Singer Sargent: In the Luxembourg Gardens
Like many of his contemporaries, the American John Singer Sargent lived in the Latin Quarter of Paris in the 1870s, near the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the Palais du Luxembourg, which had one of the largest parks on the Left Bank, newly laid out with formal gardens, fountains, and sculpture. In this twilight scene by Sargent, a vast expanse of gravel, tinted mauve by the setting sun, isolates a fashionably dressed couple walking arm in arm. Preoccupied by holding up her skirt and clutching her companion’s arm, the woman seems distracted, while the man dispassionately smokes a cigarette. The detachment of the couple is echoed by other figures in the garden, all absorbed in their own activities: sitting on a bench, reading a newspaper, or playing with a toy sailboat. This artwork is now located in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.