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Unloading Plaster

John Singer Sargent

American Art

Sargent altered large portions of this composition by scraping away previous paint applications, abrading the surface of the paper in the process. The largest alteration—the area of the entire rowboat and the nudes—was then repainted with thickly applied opaque watercolors bulked with zinc white. This repainting is so masterful that it is difficult to detect without the aid of a microscope, which reveals clumps of the abraded surface fibers in the paint. Sargent altered the triangular sail at right and repainted it with white lead, a pigment rarely used because of its tendency to darken (as seen in portions of the sail and in the figures to the left of the sail).
MEDIUM Opaque and translucent watercolor with graphite underdrawing
DATES ca. 1908
DIMENSIONS 13 7/8 x 19 3/8 in. (35.3 x 49.2 cm) frame: 23 7/8 x 29 7/8 x 1 1/4 in. (60.6 x 75.9 x 3.2 cm)  (show scale)
CREDIT LINE Purchased by Special Subscription
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION John Singer Sargent (American, born Italy, 1856–1925). Unloading Plaster, ca. 1908. Opaque and translucent watercolor with graphite underdrawing, 13 7/8 x 19 3/8 in. (35.3 x 49.2 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by Special Subscription, 09.844 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 09.844_PS6.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 09.844_PS6.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2012
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RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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