Mrs. Daniel Sargent (Mary Turner)

John Singleton Copley1763

de Young museum

de Young museum
San Francisco, CA, United States

According to her son, Mrs. Daniel Sargent sat for this portrait on fifteen different occasions, sometimes remaining still for up to six hours. During one sitting, while the artist briefly left the room, Sargent glanced at the painting and was astonished to find that Copley had erased the portion of the canvas that depicted her head. This anecdote provides just one of many examples of Copley’s painstaking perfectionism; he was known to often rework areas of the canvas until a precise likeness was achieved. Commissioned to paint Sargent shortly after her marriage, Copley incorporated into the portrait symbols of love and fertility. For example, in her right hand she holds a scallop shell, a reference to Venus, the goddess of beauty and love. Likewise, the waterfall cascading from the stone wall signifies virtue, fertility, and life.


  • Title: Mrs. Daniel Sargent (Mary Turner)
  • Creator Lifespan: 1738 - 1815
  • Creator Nationality: American
  • Creator Gender: male
  • Creator Death Place: London, England
  • Creator Birth Place: Boston, MA
  • Date Created: 1763
  • Location: United States
  • Physical Dimensions: w996.95 x h1257.3 in
  • Type: Painting
  • painter: John Singleton Copley
  • credit line source: Museum
  • Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd

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