John Singer Sargent

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John Singer Sargent (January 12, 1856 – April 14, 1925) was an American painter, and a leading portrait painter of his era.[1][2] During his career, he created roughly 900 oil paintings and more than 2,000 watercolors, as well as countless sketches and charcoal drawings. His oeuvre documents worldwide travel, from Venice to the Tyrol, Corfu, the Middle East, Montana, Maine, and Florida.


Early life

Before Sargent's birth, his father FitzWilliam (b. 1820 Gloucester, Massachusetts) was an eye surgeon at the Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia 1844-1854. After John's older sister died at the age of two, his mother Mary (née Singer) suffered a breakdown, and the couple decided to go abroad to recover. They remained nomadic expatriates for the rest of their lives.[3][4] Though based in Paris, Sargent's parents moved regularly with the seasons to the sea and the mountain resorts in France, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland. While Mary was pregnant, they stopped in Florence, Italy because of a cholera epidemic. Sargent was born there in 1856. A year later, his sister Mary was born. After her birth, FitzWilliam reluctantly resigned his post in Philadelphia and accepted his wife's entreaties to remain abroad.[5] They lived modestly on a small inheritance and savings, living a quiet life with their children. They generally avoided society and other Americans except for friends in the art world.[6] Four more children were born abroad, of whom only two lived past childhood.[7]

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