Sargent Murals at the Widener Library, Harvard

Preliminary drawings

Sargent developed his final ideas for the Widener paintings through charcoal drawings, including rough composition sketches, studies of individual figures, and close examinations of crucial details. In Study of a Hand Clasping a Sword, for example, he establishes the short sword held downward by the allegorical figure representing Belgium in Entering the War. In the painting, however, the sword is broken and useless, symbolizing Belgium’s early defeat by the invading Germans.
1. Study of a Hand Clasping a Sword, 1921-22
Charcoal on paper, 47.9 x 63.2 cm
Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University Art Museums*
2. Entering the War, detail
Widener Library, Harvard University
The Triumph of Religion