The great British portraitist John Singleton Copley painted twenty-year-old Mary Turner in 1763 on the occasion of her marriage to Daniel Sargent of Gloucester. He was thirty-two and wealthy, with business interests in Gloucester, Newburyport, and, later, Boston.Very little is known about Mary Turner Sargent except for a few details published in the Sargent family genealogy. As the daughter of the fourth John Turner, Mary would have been taught (minimally) how to read, write, and manage a merchant class home. Mary and Daniel Sargent had six high-achieving sons (Daniel, Ignatius, John Turner, Henry, Winthrop, and Lucius Manlius) and a daughter, Mary, who died in infancy.
To date, the only known source on Mary Turner Sargent’s personal story comes to us through the letters of her niece, Judith Sargent Murray, who was eight years younger than Mary and her closest female friend. In their letters, Mary called Judith “Constantia” (Judith’s professional pen name), and Judith referred to her as “my Maria.”
Judith’s letters document private details in both of their lives—so much so that Mary hoped to collect and perhaps publish them. Judith wrote to her: “I shall find great pleasure, in furnishing my Maria, not only with renewed copies of those peculiar lines, but with any other pieces of mine, which her partiality may induce her to value. I am most agreeably impressed by your plan for immortalizing our attachment by transferring the testimonials thereof to our dear Boys — Yes, I am indeed, their maternal friend.” It is unclear if Mary’s sons, the “dear Boys,” carried out their mother’s wish.
Of the portrait itself, the curator Theodore Stebbins explains, “Copley attempted to cast his women in an idealized mode, as called for by English practice, by generalizing them more than his male sitters, picturing them in luxuriant fashions, and seldom giving them specific, unique attributes representing their own individual interests or lives … Mrs. Daniel Sargent lifts a scalloped shell to catch water flowing from a fountain, thereby alluding symbolically to feminine virtue and beauty.”
Mary’s son Henry, an artist, once remarked, “Copley’s manner, though his pictures have great merit, was very mechanical. He painted a beautiful head of my mother, who told me that she sat [for] him fifteen or sixteen times! Six hours at a time!!”
Details: The portrait above is a copy of the original John Singleton Copley that hangs in the Holyoke Room of the Visitor Center at The House of the Seven Gables. The original portrait: Mrs. Daniel Sargent, 1763. Oil on canvas, 50 x 40 in. Fine Art Museums of San Francisco, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller.
History of the Rise and Progress of the Arts of Design in the United States by William Dunlap (New York: George P. Scott & Co., 1834).
Epes Sargent of Gloucester and His Descendants arr. Emma Worcester Sargent (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1923).
John Singleton Copley in America by Stebbins, Rebora, et al (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1995).
Judith Sargent Murray Papers, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Jackson, MS.
Executive Director Kara McLaughlin accepted the Community Service Award on behalf of the The House of the Seven Gables at the Salem Chamber's Celebrate Salem Awards Dinner at the Peabody Essex Museum on April 25.
All of the nominees in each category were voted on by the community. The Community Service Award is given to an organization that exhibits an outstanding record of community service and volunteer participation. The Gables was in a field that included a number of worthy organizations.
The House of the Seven Gables is extremely grateful to all who voted for the organization and its good work in Salem.
Are you looking for a fun way to support our ongoing preservation work? Join us on May 19 for a paint-and-sip event with local artist Linda Abbene. Whether you are a new painter or a seasoned talent, join us for a morning of art at The House of the Seven Gables. Supplies will be provided with your admission as well as mimosas, soft drinks, pastries, and fruits.
All proceeds from the event will support our “Paint The Gables” fund. In 2018, we plan to paint the exterior of the 350-year-old Turner-Ingersoll Mansion after the roof replacement is completed. Sip a mimosa by the water while painting your own masterpiece—all while supporting historic preservation.
This event takes place on Saturday, May 19 at 9:30 a.m. (check in by 9:15). Pre-registration is strongly suggested.
We are looking forward to the Professional Educators’ Three Day Institute this month. This series of workshops will inspire local educators to use Nathaniel Hawthorne’s writing, unique historical stories, and modern literature in their classrooms.
Our settlement programs staff will be offering an overview of children’s literature about immigration as well as presenting The Red Hair Comb / La Peineta Colorada, which is one of the most popular books from our summer enrichment programs, Caribbean Connections.
Get together with family and friends for a fun activity. This unique 1000-piece puzzle has an artistic image of the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion on Halloween night. This is one of the most popular items in our store.
Can't make it to shop at The Gables? Check out our selection on our online store.
This year The House of the Seven Gables (1668) celebrates a singular milestone. Built 350 years ago, it is still a place where stories are made. Ever the provider of shelter and support, The Gables inspires others as it once inspired Nathaniel Hawthorne. Where sea captains once found their footing, immigrants became citizens, visitors explore period rooms, historians pore over archives, families delight in the gardens, and authors find inspiration.
As we look ahead, we call upon you to help secure our future by contributing to our Annual Fund. Admissions, memberships and merchandise sales are integral to our operations but only cover a portion of what we do. We must rely on your generosity so that The House of the Seven Gables can continue to be an essential part of our shared history and bright future.
Contribute today so we can safeguard our legacy for the future!
This will be a banner year at The Gables, as we celebrate our 350th anniversary. Sign up for The House of the Seven Gables’ Three-Day Professional Institute for Educators, taking place May 17 – 19, 2018. Registration is required for the institute, and reservations for the lectures are strongly recommended.
Join us for sessions as rich and compelling as the history of The House of the Seven Gables itself!
Create your very own commemoration of the 350th anniversary of The House of the Seven Gables with a spring-morning paint and sip event. Local artist Linda Abbene will lead you on a step-by-step artistic journey while you enjoy mimosas and fresh pastries.
Proceeds from the event will go towards a fund to repaint The House of the Seven Gables this summer.