Margarett Sargent was born into the privileged world of old Boston money, to Francis Williams Sargent and Jane Welles Hunnewell. She was a distant relative of John Singer Sargent.
She began her training in Italy as a sculptor (''If only we hadn't sent her to Europe,'' her family would say whenever she did something un-Bostonian), and later turned to watercolors and oils.
She had her first show in New York in 1926. However, just as she was establishing her reputation, she stopped exhibiting, and soon painting altogether. Margarett became a socialite, a student of Mount Rushmore's Gutzon Borglum.
She also had an affair with her New York roommate, Marjorie Davenport, and with painter George Luks, a member of the artistic avant-garde of New York and Boston.
She also may be having an affair with her New York roommate, Marjorie Davenport. She married Quincy Adams Shaw McKean, a polo-playing, dog-breeding Boston aristocrat and owner of an estate called Prides.
They had four children in the next 3 years. Both embarked on many affairs, with Margarett's more flagrant, shocking and undiscriminating as to gender: her affairs included both men and women.
She abruptly stopped painting at 44, and became an obsessive gardener, an alcoholic and, finally, a frequent patient in sanitariums, where electroshock therapy shuts the final door on art. Eventually, Shaw divorced her.