CHASING THE LIGHT—JOHN SINGER SARGENT. For “Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose”, there would be only a couple minutes each day when the light Sargent was trying to capture would exist. Sargent’s friend Edmund Gosse described how the painting was done:
“Everything was used to be placed in readiness, the easel, the canvas, the flowers, the demure little girls in their white dresses,before we began our daily afternoon lawn tennis, in which Sargent took his share. But at the exact moment, which of course came a minute or two earlier each evening, the game was stopped, and the painter was accompanied to the scene of his labors. Instantly, he took up his place at a distance from the canvas, and at a certain notation of the light ran forward over the lawn with the action of a wag-tail, planting at the same time rapid dabs of paint on the picture, and then retiring again, only with equal suddenness to repeat the wag-tail action. All this occupied but two or three minutes, the light rapidly declining, and then while he left the young ladies to remove his machinery, Sargent would join us again, so long as the twilight permitted, in a last turn at lawn tennis”
The painting was done from August until November of 1885 and then resumed the next year.
Here is the googleart reproduction of “Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose”: http://www.googleartproject.com/museums/tate/carnation-lily-lily-rose-118