- Gallery Text
In this closely cropped view of the Canadian Rockies, John Singer Sargent explored the materiality of paint. With its rough, gestural brushwork, thick layers of pigment, and thin washes, Lake O’Hara exemplifies the artist’s late style. The painting verges on abstraction, and is in stark contrast to the work of earlier painters who freighted their images of the Rockies with symbolism.
Lake O’Hara occupies an important position in the history of the Fogg Museum. When it was acquired in 1916, the painting was the first work by a living artist to enter the museum’s collection. Edward W. Forbes, the Fogg’s director, arranged for the purchase of Lake O’Hara despite his uncertainty about the quality of contemporary painting: “In the past, the policy of the Fogg Museum has been to exhibit the work of men who are dead.” But “Mr. Sargent is usually considered to be the greatest living American painter, and one or two of the greatest if not the greatest of any nationality.”
- Identification and Creation
Level 2, Room 2700, European and American Art, 19th century, Impressionism and the Late Nineteenth Century
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- Physical Descriptions
- Oil on canvas
- 97.5 x 116.2 cm (38 3/8 x 45 3/4 in.)
framed: 122.6 x 141.6 x 7.3 cm (48 1/4 x 55 3/4 x 2 7/8 in.)
- Inscriptions and Marks
- Signed: l.l.: John S. Sargent 1916
- exhibition label: back of frame, paper: [from exhibition The Private World of John Singer Sargent]
- exhibition label: back of frame, paper
- exhibition label: back of frame, paper
- John Singer Sargent, sold; to Fogg Art Museum, November 1916
- Acquisition and Rights
- Credit Line
- Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Louise E. Bettens Fund
- Accession Year
- Object Number
- European and American Art
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- Publication History
Edward Waldo Forbes, "Recent Gifts to the Fogg Art Museum and What They Signify", Harvard Alumni Bulletin (Cambridge, MA, January 25, 1917), vol. XIX, no. 17, pp. 327-331, ill. p. 327
"Report of the O'Hara Meadows Camp, 1921", Canadian Alpine Journal (1922), vol. 12, p. 200
The Fogg Art Museum and the Division of the Fine Arts of Harvard University, brochure (Cambridge, MA, May 25, 1922), reproduced (unpaginated) in b/w
"Great Sargent Retrospective Exhibition Opens at the Grand Central Galleries", Art News (February 23, 1924), XXII, no. 20, p. 2, p. 2, repr.
Leila Mechlin, "The Sargent Exhibition: Grand Central Art Galleries New York", The American Magazine of Art (April 1924), vol. XV, no. 4, pp. 168-190, p. 185, ill. p. 182
Retrospective Exhibition of Important Works by John Singer Sargent, exh. cat., Grand Central Art Galleries (New York, NY, 1924), no. 8
A Catalogue of the Memorial Exhibition of the Works of the Late John Singer Sargent, exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Boston, MA, 1925), no. 115, repr.
William Howe Downes, John S. Sargent, His Life and Work, Little, Brown & Company (Boston, MA, 1925), p. 248; repr. at back of book (unpaginated)
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, A Catalogue of the Memorial Exhibition of the Works of the Late John Singer Sargent (Boston, 1926), no. 118, repr.
Memorial Exhibition of the Work of John Singer Sargent, exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY, 1926), no. 57, repr.
Fogg Art Museum Handbook, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1927), repr. in b/w, p. 59
Fogg Art Museum Handbook, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1931), repr. in b/w p. 73
Fogg Art Museum Handbook, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1936), ill. p. 109
Edward Waldo Forbes, History of the Fogg Art Museum, Unpublished (1956), p. 163
Paintings, Drawings, and Sculpture from the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, exh. cat., Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, 1967)
Richard Ormond, John Singer Sargent: Paintings, Drawings, Watercolors, Harper & Row (New York, NY and London, England, 1970), p. 78
Louise Todd Ambler and Kenyon Castle Bolton, III, "American Painting at Harvard", Antiques (New York, NY, November 1972), vol. 102, no. 5, pp. 876-883, p. 877, pl. II
Kenyon Castle Bolton, III, Peter G. Huenink, Earl A. Powell III, Harry Z. Rand, and Nanette C. Sexton, American Art at Harvard, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1972), cat. 119, ill.
Karen Wilkin, Art in Alberta: Paul Kane to the Present, exh. cat., Edmonton Art Gallery (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, 1973), ill. n.p.
Rebecca W. Karo, "Ah Wilderness! Sargent in the Rockies, 1916", Fenway Court; Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, MA, 1977), pp. 21-29, p. 28, fig. 12
John Singer Sargent, His Own Work, exh. cat., Coe Kerr Gallery, Inc. (New York, NY, 1980), repr. in b/w fig. 60; in checklist, unpaginated
S. Lane Faison, Jr., The New England Eye: Master American Paintings from New England School, College & University Collections, exh. cat., Williams College Museum of Art (Williamstown, MA, 1983), p. 11, p. 60; pl. 50, ill.
Caroline A. Jones, Modern Art at Harvard: The Formation of the Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Collections of the Harvard University Art Museums (New York, NY and Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Art Museums and Abbeville Press, 1985). With an essay by John Coolidge and a preface by John M. Rosenfield. To accompany the inaugural exhibition at the Sackler Museum, Oct 21 1985 - Jan 5 1986, reproduced in color fig. 6, p. 18
Patricia Hills, "'Painted Diaries': Sargent's Late Subject Pictures", exh. cat., Whitney Museum of American Art / Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (New York, NY, 1986), p. 199, fig. 156
Trevor J. Fairbrother, John Singer Sargent and America, Garland Publishing, Inc. (New York, NY, 1986), pp. 333-334, fig. 93
John Grande, "John Singer Sargent in the Canadian Rockies: Lake O'Hara, 1916", Fine Art and Auction Review (March-April 1988), vol. 14, no. 4, p. 21, reproduced p. 21
John Updike, Just Looking: Essays on Art, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. (New York, NY, 1989), p. 64, ill.
Timothy Anglin Burgard, American Art at Harvard: Cultures and Contexts, brochure, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1994), pp. 3, 10, fig. 2, cat. 22
Bruce Hugh Russell, "John Singer Sargent in the Canadian Rockies: 1916", The Beaver: Exploring Canada's History, Canada's National Historical Society (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, December 1997), vol. 77, no. 6, pp. 4-12, ill. p. 5
Hilliard T. Goldfarb, Erica E. Hirshler, and T. J. Jackson Lears, Sargent: The Late Landscapes, exh. cat., Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 1999), cat. no. 13, repr., pp. 63, 64, 71, 103
Stephanie Herdrich and Helen Barbara Weinberg, American Drawings and Watercolors in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: John Singer Sargent, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY, 2000), p. 349-350, under no. 331
Jane Lytton Gooch, Artists of the Rockies: Inspiration of Lake O'Hara (2003), p. 31
Lisa Christensen, The Lake O'Hara Art of J.E.H. MacDonald and Hiker's Guide, Fifth House (Calgary, 2003), p. 12
Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr., Virginia Anderson, and Kimberly Orcutt, ed., American Paintings at Harvard, Volume Two, Paintings, Drawings, Pastels and Stained Glass by Artists Born 1826-1856, Harvard Art Museums and Yale University Press (U.S.) (Cambridge, MA and New Haven, CT, 2008), p. 337, cat. 354, ill.
Hilliard T. Goldfarb, Expanding Horizons: American and Canadian Painting and Photography, 1860-1918, exh. cat., The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Montreal, 2009), p. 186, repr. p. 185 as fig. 2
Richard Ormond and Elaine Kilmurray, John Singer Sargent: Figures and Landscapes, 1914-1925, Yale University Press (New Haven, 2016), no. 1797, repr., pp. 143-144, 147, 306, repr. p. 140 (detail); frame: fig. 72, p. 72
James D. Balestrieri, "Sargent Painted Here: John Singer Sargent & Chicago's Gilded Age at the Art Insitute of Chicago", American Fine Art Magazine (September / October 2018), No. 41, pp. 58-63, p. 58, repr.
John Singer Sargent, exh. cat., Nationalmuseum (Stockholm, 2018), repr. pp. 52-53
Annelise K. Madsen, John Singer Sargent and Chicago's Gilded Age, exh. cat., The Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, 2018), cat. no. 46, fig. 53, pp. 76, 123, 205
- Exhibition History
Exhibition of Paintings and Drawings by John Singer Sargent for the Benefit of the American Ambulance Hospital, Paris, Copley Gallery, Boston, 01/22/1917 - 02/03/1917
Unidentified Exhibition, Algonquin Club, 1920, Algonquin Club, Boston, 04/01/1920 - 04/30/1920
Fourteenth Annual Exhibition of Selected Paintings by American Artists, Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, 05/29/1920 - 09/07/1920
Unidentified Exhibition, Hood Museum of Art, 1921, Hood Museum of Art, Hanover, 01/03/1921 - 01/22/1921
Retrospective Exhibition of Important Works of John Singer Sargent, Grand Central Art Galleries, New York, 02/01/1924 - 03/31/1924
Unidentified Exhibition, Art Institute of Chicago, 1924, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, 05/01/1924 - 05/31/1924
John Singer Sargent Memorial Exhibition, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston, 10/01/1925 - 11/30/1925
Memorial Exhibition of Works by John Singer Sargent, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 01/04/1926 - 02/14/1926
Selected Paintings by American Artists, California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, 11/26/1926 - 01/31/1927; Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego, San Diego, 02/01/1927 - 03/31/1927
Unidentified Exhibition, Wadsworth Atheneum, 1928, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, 01/01/1928 - 12/31/1928
American Painting, Fitchburg Art Association, Fitchburg, 07/01/1930 - 08/31/1930
Unidentified Exhibition, William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art, 1933, William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art (now Nelson-Atkins), Kansas City, 12/01/1933 - 03/31/1934
Sargent and Mancini, Castano Galleries, Boston, 11/08/1951 - 01/16/1952
American Paintings from the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Symphony Hall, Boston, 02/21/1958 - 03/15/1958
Paintings, Drawings, Sculpture from the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, 10/12/1967 - 12/03/1967
American Art at Harvard, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/19/1972 - 06/18/1972
Art in Alberta: Paul Kane to the Present, Edmonton Art Gallery, Edmonton, 04/06/1973 - 05/10/1973; Glenbow Museum, Calgary, 07/01/1973 - 08/25/1973
The American Landscape, Arts Club of Chicago, Chicago, 11/15/1973 - 12/30/1973
The New England Eye Masterpieces of American Art from New England Colleges and Universities, Williams College Museum of Art, 09/09/1983 - 11/04/1983
Modern Art at Harvard, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 10/21/1985 - 01/05/1986
John Singer Sargent, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 10/07/1986 - 01/04/1987; The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, 02/07/1987 - 04/19/1987
American Art at Harvard: Cultures and Contexts, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 10/01/1994 - 12/30/1994
Sargent: The Late Landscapes, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, 05/21/1999 - 09/26/1999
32Q: 2700 Impressionism, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 10/15/2015 - 10/11/2016; Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/13/2019 - 01/01/2050
John Singer Sargent and Chicago's Gilded Age, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, 07/01/2018 - 09/30/2018
John Singer Sargent, Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, 10/13/2018 - 01/13/2019
- Subjects and Contexts
Google Art Project
- Related Articles
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This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at firstname.lastname@example.org