This is one of my favourite paintings. The whole scene is just so magical! It is by the famous artist John Singer Sargent and was painted in 1885-1886. Sargent was an American artist, who lived in Paris before settling in England, where he painted this picture. Apparently Sargent took inspiration from a boating trip on the Thames river in 1885, where he saw hanging Chinese lanterns amongst the trees and the lilies. The girls in the picture were based on the daughter of his artist friend, F.D. Millet, and then the daughters of the illustrator Frederick Barnard because they had the perfect hair-colour that Sargent wanted for the painting! As this was mostly painted outside in the beautiful dying¬†evening sun, Sargent was only able to work on the painting for a few minutes each day, when the light was exactly right – a quality which you can almost feel in the painting.
If you‚Äôd like to see this painting in all its glory, you can see it in the Tate Britain, London, and if you‚Äôre like me you‚Äôll rest in front of it for a few minutes and wish just a little that you were there in the scene too. The light is just incredible and the purity of girlhood and sisterhood emanates from this picture. When I look at it, I almost feel as though there is nothing happening outside of this picture, as if they were in some magical world devoid of anything else. The innocence and the beauty caught in this picture is wonderful, although it does seem to suggest an almost idyllic and idealist image of childhood! However, whilst the lilies -which look huge in comparison to the size of the girls – are indeed a traditional sign of purity, the flames suggest that youth passes quickly, as quickly as flames can disappear. It would suggest perhaps then, that we really should enjoy these moments of childhood and make the most of them, because they really can be a beautiful thing!
Girl Museum Inc.