Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose
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In this piece, various Chinese Lanterns glow in an orange-pink light, standing out against the deep teals and greens of the garden around them. Subtler pinks and whites in the garden’s flowers and the dresses of the children serve to emphasise the more vivid colours of the lanterns. The interest in accurately capturing outdoor light was an influence from the Impressionists on Sargent’s work, while the sentimental beautified subject matter comes from the Pre-Raphaelites with whom Sargent also socialised. The scene feels soft and intimate, with a warm light cast on the girls from the evening light, and the space being entirely enclosed by greenery, adding a sense of privacy. The artist has painted from a high-up perspective, as if we are an adult looking down onto the sentimental scene. The work was inspired by the artist’s sighting of Chinese Lanterns during a boating trip down the Thames, London, in 1885. Following their import from the East during the 19th Century, these paper orbs would have been incredibly exciting in their exoticism. The children are modelled after the two daughters of Sargent’s friend and fellow artist Frederick Barnard.