John Singer Sargent
was born January,
in Florence, the son of American parents, Dr. Fitzwilliam Sargent
and Mary Newbold Singer Sargent (1826-1902) who had been on vacation.
His parents had
for Europe in the fall of 1854 a year after the death of their first
(Mary Newbold born '51, died July of '53) leaving Mrs. Sargent crushed.
Mrs. Sargent insisted they travel to Europe to regain her health and so
they did the following autumn (1854) after Dr. Sargent took a
of absence from his position as Attending Surgeon at Wills Hospital and
his promising career in Philadelphia. He had every intention of
upon the successful emotional convalescence of his wife. However, while
over there, Mary got pregnant again with John and he is born.
That year the
family spends the summer
in Geneva and the winter in Rome. Mrs. Sargent once more finds herself
(1 year old)
His sister Emily is
born in Rome
(1856-1936). Any pretense that Mrs. Sargent is going to consent to
to the United States is pretty much shattered by the second birth of
child and Dr. Sargent resigns his position as surgeon at Wills Hospital
at the age of 37.
They spend the
spring and summer
(2-3 years old)
in Rome. The family spends the summer in Switzerland.
(4-5 years old)
Back to Rome in the
fall of 1860.
Emily has an accident which leaves her spine deformed. Mrs. Sargent is
incapable of handling the illness of her daughter and Dr. Sargent
a great deal of time aiding Emily. Mrs. Sargent is already pregnant
The first known
drawing of John is
done of Dr. Sargent writing a letter to his own father which he
February 1, '61, a
Mary Winthrop "Minnie" is born (1861-1865).
The family spends
the spring and
summer in Switzerland and September they travel back to Nice for the
Dr. Sargent follows
the Civil War
in the press with intense interest.
change of local nannies
from city to city and country to country is exposing John to the
European languages which he begins to pick up without accent.
(6 years old)
Nice. The family
lives in the Maison
Virello, rue Grimaldi. Sargent becomes friends with Ben del Castillo, a
son of other expatriate Americans (originally from Cuba).
The family travels
to London to consult
doctors about Emily's back, and then on to Switzerland in July. By
they return once more to Nice for the winter.
(7 years old)
May, in response to
Southern sympathies for the Civil War, Dr. Sargent publishes a pamphlet
entitled England, the United States, and the Southern Confederacy,
in which he pleads for reason on the part of England to not stoop to
self interest (the supply of cotton to England's mills) but long term
-- politically and economically.
They find the
community as fractious as their native country and one neighbor at Nice
flies the Confederate flag at every news of a Union defeat.
June to October
and Nice again for late autumn and winter.
(9 years old)
youngest sister (age
4), catches a bronchial infection which she can't shake and her health
slips fast. They travel to Pau, France with the hope of an improved
but find the weather is no better and she dies.
It seems the only
way Mrs. Sargent
knows how to cope is to travel more.
May, they are in
Dr. Sargent plans a
trip alone back
to the States to visit his parents. The rest of the family remains in
and rejoins Dr. Sargent in London by September. They spend
in Paris and November in Nice.
(10 years old)
By '66 John has met
his friend Violet
Paget (a.k.a. Vernon Lee). The family spends the summer around Lake
and the Engadine and then returns to Nice in the fall where Mrs.
is once more pregnant. John, Emily and Violet spend time painting in
with Mrs. Sargent who painted often as recreation.
(11 years old)
Sargent and sister Emily 1867,
Winter in Nice.
March 7, another
child is born to
the family, this time a brother -- Fitzwilliam Winthrop (1867-1869).
baby's health is poor.
The itinerary only
gets fuller. In
the summer the family travels to Paris, the Rhine, Muich, the Tyrol,
Milan, then Genoa. In October the family returns to Nice for the winter.
(12 years old)
By March the family
is in Spain,
May they are in Biarritz then back to Nice by October. Dr. Sargent sees
a need for formal education for John, and at Nice John attends a school
run by an English clergyman and his wife -- but the stay is brief.
Sargent -- ever restless
-- pushes the family on to Rome where they live at 17 Trinita de Monti,
above the Piazza di Spagna. Here, John helps the German-American
landscape painter Carl
Welsch (1828-1904) in his studio and copies watercolors.
(13 years old)
They Winter in Rome
and by May the
family travels to Naples, Capri, Sorrento, Pompeii and from Padua to
(seemingly never resting with the itinerary almost frantic). On these
John writes to his friend Ben
On June 28, John's
Winthrop dies at Kissingen.
July, the family is
in St. Moritz
and Mrs. Sargent finds herself pregnant again, then to Florence by
where John paints copies at the Bargello.
(14 years old)
Still in Florence
on February 9th,
Violet Sargent is born (1870-1955) -- the youngest and last
of the children.
M. Joseph Domengs
day school, in the former Convent I Servi di Maria in the Piazza della
SS Annumziata and has dancing lessons at 43 via Romana.
May, they are in
Venice and Lake
June to October in
John paints a number of Alpine watercolors.
October, they are
back in Florence
for the winter.