Although an American, John Singer Sargent did not even see the United States until he was 20. He was born in Florence on January 12, 1856. His mother, an amateur artist, had persuaded her doctor husband, that her sickly constitution required the healing climes of Europe. Her son remained an expatriate for the rest of his life, making only ten trips to the United States. The young Sargent learned to speak French, Italian, and German as the family flitted to southern European cities to escape the cold, and to resorts in the Alps and the Pyrenees to escape the heat.