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The most fashionable portrait painter working in England and the USA in the late 19th century, John Singer Sargent was brought up by expatriate American parents in an environment of restless travel and insulated family life. He was cosmopolitan in outlook, a linguist, a fine pianist, and an avid reader of the classics. The spirit of self-sufficiency and isolation, both physical and emotional, remained with him all his life. He never married, grew wary of emotional entanglements and remained closest to his sisters, especially the eldest, Emily.