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John La Farge

Water Lily in Sunlight
about 1883
watercolor
8 1/4 x 8 3/16 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of John Gellatly

La Farge took advantage of the ease and fluidity of the watercolor medium to loosen his brushstrokes and suggest, rather than describe, the subtleties of nature. The contrasting densities of pigment reveal his mastery of the watercolor technique and suggest the pleasure he took in the medium's physical properties. Shortly after this work was completed, a critic remarked: "It is on these modest water-colors that his fame, in the future, promises to rest."