Venetian Bead Stringers

John Singer Sargent1880 or 1882

Albright-Knox Art Gallery

Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Buffalo, New York, United States

John Singer Sargent was fond of making studies in watercolor or oil and often sketched the everyday scenes or incidents that caught his eye during his frequent travels throughout Europe. He executed this painting of bead stringers at work during one of his two trips to Venice: the first in 1880, when he had a studio on the Palazzo Rezzonico, or the second in 1882, when he stayed with his cousin Daniel Curtis in the Palazzo Barbaro on the Grand Canal. In this painting, only one of the women holds the shallow wooden tray customarily used for this type of tedious work. The other two figures are grouped close to her, as if engaged in a conversation, yet each appears to be absorbed in thought. Here, Sargent experimented with shaping a composition out of muted tonal harmonies. The subdued, restrained palette of dark browns, grays, and black is accented by luminous gradations of white. The work’s subtle atmospheric play suggests the impact of Diego Velázquez (Spanish, 1599–1660). Sargent particularly admired his work and encountered numerous examples of it during a trip to Spain in early 1880.


  • Title: Venetian Bead Stringers
  • Creator: John Singer Sargent
  • Date Created: 1880 or 1882
  • Physical Dimensions: support: 26 3/8 x 30 3/4 inches (66.99 x 78.1 cm); framed: 35 x 39 x 3 1/2 inches (88.9 x 99.06 x 8.89 cm)
  • Contributor: Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Friends of the Albright Art Gallery Fund, 1916 (1916:2)
  • Rights: The copyright status of this artwork is believed to be held in public domain. The Albright-Knox Art Gallery is mindful of its responsibilities concerning the intellectual property rights of others, and works to protect images of artworks that are believed to be under copyright or to have other restrictions imposed by contract or policy. While the museum makes every effort to accurately determine the rights status of artworks and images of those artworks, the information provided may not be up to date. Any statement on the public domain status of a work is made by the museum in good faith. If you have any information on the rights status of a work contrary to or in addition to the information listed here, or if you are the copyright owner and believe the AK has not properly attributed your work or has used it without your authorization, please contact the Albright-Knox Art Gallery at digitalassets@albrightknox.org.
  • External Link: More information about the artwork is available here.
  • Medium: oil on canvas
  • Image Information: Image courtesy of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York.
  • Artist's Nationality: American
  • Artist's Death Year: 1925
  • Artist's Birth Year: 1856

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