Digital Commonwealth

Detail from Pagan Gods: Astarte

Detail from Pagan Gods: Astarte

Item Information

Title:
Detail from Pagan Gods: Astarte
Description:
Detail depicting Astarte, the goddess of sensuality. Notable are her thinly-painted blue robes over the bodies of entrapped female figures. Her jewels represent some of the mural cycle's 600+ elements of raised relief; these ones sparkling in metal and glass.
Artist:
Sargent, John Singer, 1856-1925
Photographer:
Lanzel, Sheryl
Sponsor:
Boston Public Library
Date:
[ca. 1890–1895]
Format:
Paintings
Genre:
Murals
Location:
Boston Public Library
Sargent Gallery
Collection (local):
Mural Cycles at the Central Library in Copley Square
Series:
Sargent Gallery Murals: Triumph of Religion by John Singer Sargent
Subjects:
Religion
Gods
Astarte (Phoenician deity)
Extent:
1 painting : mural, oil on canvas
Permalink:
Terms of Use:
Copyright (c) Sheryl Lanzel
All rights reserved.
Notes (date):
A contract dated January 18, 1893 officially commissioned John Singer Sargent to undertake work on the Boston Public Library Murals. Canvases were completed in Sargent's studios in Morgan Hall, England and London, England and shipped over to Boston and adhered to the library walls in four installations occurring in 1895, 1903, 1916, and 1919.
Notes:
Title from information in: Wick, Peter A. "A handbook to the art and architecture of the Boston Public Library" and Sargent, John Singer, "A sequence of mural decoration executed between 1895 and 1916.".
Abstract from information in: Sargent, John Singer, "A sequence of mural decoration executed between 1895 and 1916." and Promey, Sally M., "John Singer Sargent's Triumph of Religion at the Boston Public Library."
John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) was born in Florence, Italy to an American family. He was educated at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and spent most of his life living and working in England. The artist maintained close ties to Boston and painted the Boston Public Library murals concurrently with murals at the nearby Museum of Fine Arts. Known for his aptitude as a portrait painter, Sargent was commissioned to capture many famous faces of his day. The library murals - arguably his most ambitious works - represented an opportunity to solidify his reputation as a master. He was not a highly religious man, but remained fascinated by religious imagery and iconography. "Triumph of Religion" represented an opportunity for the mid-career artist to take on a truly ambitious theme and celebrate his study of religious visual history. His mural cycle was left incomplete, perhaps slowed by the artist's personal loss with the death of his niece in World War I, as well as by criticism received from members of the public who found his representations offensive.
Notes (object):
The artist used "raised relief" elements - including wood, Lincrusta-Walton, metal, papier-mâché, glass, and plaster to help emboss and illuminate the figures in natural light. Full "Pagan Gods" vault measures approximately 431 x 102 inches.
Accession #:
Sargent_006