Brooklyn Museum announces
John Singer Sargent Watercolors Exhibit
April 5 through July 28, 2013
Exhibit will combine the holdings of the
Brooklyn Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts Boston
Exhibit will also travel to Brooklkyn and to Houston.
Brief Biography John Singer Sargent - (1856 - 1925) • American Painter
John Singer Sargent was born on January 12, 1856 in Florence Italy. Two years prior his father (Dr. FitzWilliam Sargent) and mother (Mary Newbold Singer) had left Philadelphia, United States, for an extended European tour. Mary Singer had lived in Europe as a youth and had longed to return; when the death of her father left an adequate annual income to the young couple, they grasped the opportunity for a life well beyond the tedium they saw in store for them in America. Sight-seeing and traveling, the couple pursued a lifestyle that required little of any real purpose beyond raising their child and hiring temporary servants as they moved from place to place.
Though Dr. Sargent claimed ambitions to continue his medical studies while in Europe, over a few years the effort dissipated to merely keeping up with the administration of their household and the regular requirement of arranging traveling accommodations. Mary Singer desired to advance socially, but they moved so often they failed to ever build up a circle of friends that would allow those ambitions to be realized.
John Singer Sargent was the oldest of FitzWilliams and Mary's three children: Emily (born 1860) and Violet (born 1870). John stayed close to his sister Emily all of his life, and though he took up his parents traveling lifestyle later in life (though not to the same extreme degree), he usually spent at least one meal a day with his sister Emily, the one person in the length of his life that he shared a mutual devotion to and from.
With very little actual schooling, John Singer Sargent was raised on a diet of museums, sight-seeing and the books his father provided. Encouraged to read widely and to develop the ability to discriminate in all areas between what is average, good and better. His mother Mary encouraged him to draw, and a natural ability at good draftsmanship was apparent early. Though he made many sketches from personal observation, young John also copied freely from magazines and from the paintings he saw while incessantly traveling through the galleries and museums of Europe.
Father FitzWilliams had hoped John would pursue a career in the United States Navy, an idea that had once been the father's goal. But Mary Singer had too successfully inculcated young John with the feelings and ideas of the art world, and despite his father's misgivings, was able to secure some professional instruction when he was 14 years old.
The family regularly wintered in Florence, and during the 1870s John Sargent began to attend classes at the Accademia delle Belle Art. The instruction was ultimately considered inferior, and the Sargent's began a search for better instruction, finally settling on Paris, and then the atelier of Carolus-Duran. The instruction he gained there prepared him for the entrance exams for the Ecole des Beaux-arts, which was supplementary training combined with the personal teaching of Carolus-Duran, who had taken on a number of students (many anglo-saxon).