John Singer Sargent

The Mountains of Moab

1905

On display at Tate Britain

Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 654 x 1111 mm
frame: 960 x 1409 x 90 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by the heirs of Mrs Ormond 1957
Reference
T00124

Display caption

The Mountains of the Moab lie to the south east of the Dead sea in Jordan. Sargent painted this work in 1905, during a visit to Syria and Palestine, sparked by a commission to paint murals at the Boston Public Library on the theme of ‘The Triumph of Religion’. Sargent wanted to give his work greater authenticity by recording first-hand the people and terrain which many Europeans believed had remained unchanged since the life of Christ. Sargent was known primarily as a portrait painter; this was his first exhibited landscape, shown in 1906.

Gallery label, November 2016

Catalogue entry

T00124 THE MOUNTAINS OF MOAB 1905

Inscr. ‘J. S. Sargent’ b.l.
Canvas, 25 3/4×43 3/4 (65·5×111).
Presented by the heirs of Mrs Ormond 1957.
Coll: Miss Emily Sargent until 1936.
Exh: R.A., 1906 (383); R.S.A., 1911 (205); 53rd Autumn Exhibition, Liverpool, September–December 1925 (128); R.A., winter 1926 (18); York, March–May 1926 (31); Inaugural and 59th Autumn Exhibition, Liverpool, October–December 1933 (151).
Lit: Downes, 1925, p.219; Charteris, 1927, pp.107, 172, 287; Mount, 1955, pp.302, 448; Mount, 1957, pp.246, 358.

The Mountains of Moab are a long line of mountains stretching for almost forty miles along the eastern side of the Dead Sea. According to Downes (loc. cit.) this was the first landscape to be shown by Sargent in a public gallery. Both this and T00125 resulted from the artist's tour in Palestine begun in the winter of 1905 and cut short in January 1906 by the news of his mother's death. The artist had gone to the Near East, gathering material for the second part of the Boston Public Library scheme of decoration, approved in 1895, on the subject ‘The development of religious thought from paganism through Judaism to Christianity’. At the 53rd Autumn Exhibition at Liverpool, 1925, a painting entitled ‘Mount of Olives’ was also shown (No.131).

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, II

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