April 15, 2011

Atlas Week: John Singer Sargent's "Atlas"

On this Day in the History of Art: Leonardo da Vinci born (1452), Domenichino died (1641), Charles Wilson Peale born (1741), Ayn Rand and Frank O’Connor marry (1929), Atlas Shrugged movie released (2011)

Because the Atlas Shrugged movie is coming out today I thought it would be fun to post a week of images of Atlas by various artists from history starting with my favorite artist, John Singer Sargent.

Nationality: American
Born/Died: 1856-1925

Creation Date: 1922-1925
Size: 10 ft. diameter (307.3 cm)
Media: oil on canvas
Location: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

This is one of my favorite depictions of Atlas and when considering the "Atlases" of Atlas Shrugged, it's fitting that he is surrounded by sleeping people. I also like how the circular format fits the design of the Atlas' sphere because in some depictions of Atlas the strong curve of the sphere is disjunctive with the rest of the composition. Unlike the Atlas of Atlas Shrugged, this Atlas is holding up "the heavens" instead of the Earth.

Below are a variety of sketches by Sargent for this mural painting. All are charcoal on paper (some with graphite), made from 1922-1925 and reside in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

On a side note, it is very interesting to me that the vertebrae which holds up the human head is also called "Atlas." Apparently the Atlases in our bodies hold up the brains of the Atlases that hold up the world by use of their brains.

No comments:

Post a Comment