NON-FICTION: John Sargent

His father, a distinguished surgeon of Puritan spine, wanted him to join the Navy. But his mother was musical and did water colors. Besides, he was brought up traveling abroad, where talented young pencils itch in the art galleries. So John Singer Sargent* became a painter.

That he became perhaps the greatest painter ever born of U. S. parents was due in part to inheritance from a father whose very integrity overruled his prejudice against what, in 1870 when John Sargent was 14, was regarded as a profession not quite respectable.

The upright...

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