John Singer Sargent (American, Florence 1856–1925 London)
Oil on canvas
25 x 21 in. (63.5 x 53.3 cm)
Gift of Mrs. Francis Ormond, 1950
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 770
Sargent visited the Middle East several times in connection with a series of murals on the theme of the history of religion, for which he had received a commission from the Boston Public Library in 1890. Traveling in Egypt in 1890–91, he painted this canvas, which shows a man using a simple irrigation device called a shaduf to fill a ditch, from which others are drinking and waiting to fill containers. Like many of his contemporaries, the artist may have believed that life in the region was essentially unchanged since biblical times.
the artist, until died 1925; his sister, Violet Sargent (Mrs. Francis Ormond), London, 1925–1950