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Sargent, born to American parents in Italy, resided most of his life in England. Elected Royal Academician as a portrait painter, Sargent also excelled in watercolors, of which he practiced exclusively on his annual vacations in Venice from 1886.
"Sargent drew and painted, the accidental things that caught his eye, the queer and irregular shapes of dark gondolas on the canals . . . the flash of light on the facades of palaces and the reflections on the glittering water."
-Martin Hardie, 1930
Sargent gave this watercolor to his friend Mrs. Charles Hunter, the wife of an English coal magnate, and did so frequently "until it seems her house is almost overflowing."
Given by the artist to Mrs. Charles Hunter, Hill Hall near Epping, England; (M. Knoedler and Co., New York); purchased by the John Herron Art Institute, now Indianapolis Museum of Art in 1944 (44.52).