A Capriote
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Rosina Ferrara looks like a forest-nymph in John Singer Sargent’s A Capriote. 

The Italian girl Rosina Ferrara is depicted leaning against an olive tree, soaking up the sun and minding her own business. At the time, there were many artists passing through Capri, and young ladies were warned about these men. Ferrara ignored local warnings about modeling. She was the daring and adventurous type. Ferrara came from a working-class family, and had met plenty of artists in her young life. Before Sargent laid eyes on this beauty, Rosina was a muse to Edward Vaux, Frank Hyde, Charles Sprague Pearce, and her future husband, George Randolph Barse (who would eventually carry her off to Westchester County, New York). It was a very eventful life for the humble island girl, in whom the artists saw a classical beauty only found in Ancient Greek art.

Sargent was about twenty-two when he landed on Capri. His goal was to perfect his portraiture skills. What better way than with a face like Rosina's? He would have to do it quickly, though, because Sargent despised the weather. It was so unbearably hot in Capri, and there was an onslaught of bugs! Despite his hatred for the weather and insects, Sargent painted a number of pictures based on the isle of Capri, and it’s no wonder. This island looks like a tourist destination waiting to be invaded by Instagram influencers. At the time, nobody painted the outdoors quite like Sargent, who had absorbed the plein air techniques of the Impressionists. But it wasn't just the landscape that kept him in Capri; it was also's Rosina's beauty. 

A buddy of Sargent’s from England, the artist Frank Hyde, introduced him to the young and gorgeous Rosina, who was about seventeen at the time. Sargent was so thankful for Hyde for introducing him to Rosina, that in one painting of Rosina, he signed a thank you note on the bottom. Rosina quickly became a muse to Sargent, who would go on to paint and draw her multiple times. 




  1. Adelson, Warren, “Sargent’s Life: Routes to Venice,” Sargent’s Venice, edited by Julia Moore. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.
  2. James, Jamie, Pagan Light: Dreams of Freedom and Beauty in Capri. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2019.
  3. Martone, Eric, Italian Americans: The History and Culture of a People. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, LLC, 2017.
  4. Stace, Charlotte, “A Capri romance: John Singer Sargent and Rosina Ferrera,” Daily Art Magazine, May 23, 2020. Date accessed June 17, 2020.