En route pour la pêche (Setting Out to Fish)

John Singer Sargent

(American; b. Florence, 1856–d. London, 1925)

Title: 

En route pour la pêche (Setting Out to Fish)

Date: 

1878

Medium: 
Oil on canvas
Size: 

31 x 48 3/8 in. (78.8 x 122.8 cm) Note: Image is about ½ in. smaller in each direction: 30 7/16 x 47 15/16 in. (77 x 121.6 cm)

Museum Purchase, Gallery Fund

Accession Number: 

17.2

Born in Italy to American parents, John Singer Sargent lived in Europe for his entire life. The artist painted this scene in his Paris studio when he was only 21 years old, basing it on a series of sketches he made at Cancale, a fishing village in Brittany. The impressive composition of peasants—arranged rhythmically along the light-dappled shore, like figures on a classical frieze—captures the spirit of everyday life without excessively sentimentalizing the scene. The artist’s signature bravura brushwork endows the popular 19th-century subject of life in pre-industrial places with an unprecedented freshness. Although he did paint a number of genre scenes, Sargent ultimately emerged as one of the most sought-after portraitists of his day.