Mrs. Daniel Sargent artwork

Mrs. Daniel Sargent artwork

Mrs. Daniel Sargent is a famous painting by John Singleton Copley which was completed soon after Mary Turner Sargent got married to Daniel Sargent who came from a very wealthy family composed of merchants and ship owners. The artwork is entitled “Mrs. Daniel Sargent (Mary Turner Sargent), portrait orientation is the main style and the medium of the artwork is oil on canvas. The artwork is preserve in the Museum of Fine Art in San Francisco, United States of America. The painting was done in 1763 and portrayed the innovative ability of Copley to depict artifacts which are related to individual’s lives in the New England specifically for upper and middle class subjects of those ages (Roark, 2003).

John Singleton Copley painted Mrs. Sargent soon after their marriage and incorporated various portrait symbols of love and fertility. For instance, she holds a scallop shell in her right hand which is a reference to Venus who is a goddess of beauty and love. Besides her is a waterfall that is cascading from a wall of stone which signifies fertility, purity and life. The artwork represents the outlook of the well refined ladies of those days who were socially outstanding and who the society had treasured most (Roark, 2003). The English painting and both the subjects and objects throughout the painting give an English feeling of culture and beauty. This artwork brings an implication that the most valued standards of a woman in those days were beauty, social standard, purity and conduct. All works on the art including the painting, drawings water colors costumes and decoration have a significant meaning to the colonial America and the overall societal implications (Taylor, 2002).

The artwork of Mary Turner Sargent is attached to her history and her inspiring background. She was born in Salem a place where the first American millionaires resided.  Her father was owned many ships and also a prominent legislature in Massachusetts where he had served for quite a long period of time. The father also served as the senator of the state and also became the very first captain to serve in the Boston light infantry. Mary Turner Sargent was soon married to Daniel Sargent who also came from a wealthy family of merchants (Roark, 2003). The artwork greatly symbolizes the rich in the 18th century and how they were valued in the society of that day. The wealthy merchants of this era such as the land owners, ship owners had the control of power and influence whereby the top most social class was composed of the nobles. With much of the population being in the lower class, the society generally as looking up to these nobles to get their matters attended to (Lovell, 2007).

Mary Turner Sargent design is painted with her neck being very long. The larger image clearly shows that something is tied around her neck. She seems to be very tall especially due to the dressing code of the long undergarments. The overall features of her body are represented by extra tall body parts hence her overall height seems to be quite high. Copley however designed this kind of a body structure for a purpose. He wanted to refer the teachings of the ancient times that women were taught concerning their body posture. Women from wealthy families were expected to maintain a straight and unique posture while standing especially during their young age (Lovell, 2007).  This kind of posture was however not favorable because most of them maintained it due to lack of choice. It could not allow comfortable breathing despite being highly treasured by the noble families.

The painting is still used in the current world to define social standards and the measure wealth. Mary Sargent later died but she left two sons; Henry and Lucius. Lucius became a great writer and historian while Henry became a famous person for his portraits. This indicates that the royalty bas been passed from generation to the other. The current prominent merchants are wealthy due to their fore fathers who had held top positions in the ancient days. Various standards are majorly dependent on social backgrounds and therefore American social life is dependent on the social standards of the forefathers (Lovell, 2007).

John Singleton Copley was a great artist and he might have been chosen to design the Mary Turner Sargent sculpture because of his popularity. He had so many clients on both sides of the Atlantic and usually designed artworks for the wealthy circles (Taylor, 2002). His trapping techniques and skills were much valued especially when designed clothing furniture and laces for the rich showing how wealth and royalty was valued in those ages. He however shifted to his new residence in England and never came back to the colonial country. The Mary Turner Sargent is however one of the greatest treasures that he left to the United States by which he is remembered in the history of America (Lovell, 2007).


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Roark, E. L. (2003). Artists of colonial America. Westport, Conn. [u.a.: Greenwood Press.

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Lovell, M. M. (2007). Art in a season of revolution: Painters, artisans, and patrons in early America. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

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Taylor, L. (2002). The study of dress history. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

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