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A thin, narrow-shouldered woman holding a black shawl close to her body walks toward us down an alleyway past a pair of men wearing all black in this horizontal painting. One of the men’s faces is in shadow but all three people seem to have light skin. The woman’s shawl wraps around her shoulders and the bottom hem, edged with fringe, kicks around her shins over a long, cream-white skirt. A stroke of magenta pink at her neck, perhaps her shirt, is echoed in the deep pink of her closed, full lips. Her gaze seems to be downcast, and her features, like much of the rest of the scene, are loosely painted. A touch of coral red on her head could be a flower or decoration in her brown hair, which seems to be pulled back. Behind her and to our right, two men stand, presumably talking, near a building. Both wear black hats and the collars of their black coats seem to be lined with fur. One man leans against the building and looks toward the woman. The other man looks at his companion, his face in shadow. In the distance, a man and woman sit at a small table on the far side of the alley. Buildings rising along the walkway to our left and right fill the composition and extend off the top edge. At least two buildings close off our view across the far end of the alley. A higher structure behind one of them seems to catch sunlight with a touch of bright, cream white, but the scene in the alley is softly lit, in diffused shadow. The faces of all the buildings are ivory or pale peach, and most have forest-green shutters. On the buildings, the paint is applied in rough layers to mimic stucco or plaster. Throughout the work, loose brushstrokes are visible. The artist signed the work in dark paint in the lower right corner: “John S. Sargent.”

John Singer Sargent, Street in Venice, 1882, oil on wood, Gift of the Avalon Foundation, 1962.4.1

Rooms with a View: British and American Artists in 19th-Century Italy

In-Depth Lectures: Sargent and Spain

In-Person Lectures: Sargent and Spain

  • Saturday, December 17, 2022
  • 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • East Building Auditorium
  • In-person

Throughout the 19th century, Italy was a magnet attracting British and American artists of all types. Painters, writers, poets, and composers all found the fatal charm of Italy irresistible. This lecture explores some of the expatriate American and British artists who called Italy home in the 19th century.

Unable to attend this lecture in-person? Register for the virtual version of this lecture.