Sargent's Impressionist painting depicts girls lighting Japanese lanterns in a rose and lily filled garden and was painted in the Cotswolds. The inspiration came during a boating expedition Sargent took on the Thames at Pangbourne. Polly and Dorothy (Dolly) Barnard, the daughters of the illustrator Frederick Barnard were the models, because they had the exact hair colour Sargent was seeking. Dolly, aged eleven, is on the left; Polly, aged seven, is on the right.
John Singer Sargent
Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose
174 x 153.7 cm
Oil on canvas
Date of work
Original: Oil on canvas 174 x 153.7 cm ® Tate, London
American painter John Singer Sargent was considered the most fashionable portrait painter working in England and the USA in the late 19th century. During his early career in 1880s he was influenced by his friend Monet towards Impressionism, but by the 1890s had success with society portraits. After 1900 Sargent spent his summers on long sketching holidays and shocked social circles when he decided to give up portraiture in favour of landscapes. In 1918 he worked as a war artist and from 1890 until c. 1925 he painted murals for Boston Library and Museum.