“Venetian Glass Workers” is one of many genre scenes featuring workers painted by John Singer Sargent at the beginning of the 1880s. In this painting, Sargent focused on the contrast between the dank surroundings and the scintillating products of the workers’ labor, subtly noting the separation of native production and tourist consumption of Venetian glassware. The laborers participate in a process that transforms long, thin glass tubes into beads. The woman in the right foreground slices glass tubes into uniform lengths that will be placed in a metal drum with an abrasive mixture. When the drum is heated and turned, the mixture smoothes the edges of the cut glass and forms rounded beads. Women employed as bead stringers would then prepare the multihued, sparkling bits of glass for sale.


  • Title: Venetian Glass Workers
  • Creator: John Singer Sargent (American, 1856–1925)
  • Date Created: 1880/82
  • Physical Dimensions: 56.5 × 84.5 cm (22 1/4 × 33 1/4 in.)
  • Type: Painting
  • External Link: The Art Institute of Chicago
  • Media: Oil on canvas
  • Credit Line: The Art Institute of Chicago, Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson Collection, 1933.1217
  • Artist: John Singer Sargent (American, 1856–1925)

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