The Biography of a Painting
Henry James credited Sargent with a "knock-down insolence of talent" and few of his works demonstrate those skills as much as The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit, which stands alongside Madame X and Lady Agnew of Lochnaw as one of Sargent's greatest images. The painting, which depicts four young sisters in the family apartment, was unveiled at the Paris Salon of 1883, predating by just one year the scandal of Madame X. The composition both explores and defies convention, crossing the boundaries between portrait and genre scene, formal arrangement and casual snapshot. Using numerous unpublished archival documents, scholar Erica Hirshler explores this iconic canvas from a variety of angles, discussing its innovative significance as a work of art, the people involved in its making and what became of them, its importance to Sargent's career, its place in the tradition of artistic patronage, and its changing meanings and lasting popularity. Sargent's Daughters is an evocative, multifaceted book that will transform the way you look at Sargent's work, simultaneously illuminating a much beloved painting and reaffirming its mystery. John Singer Sargent’s renowned portrait The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit is examined in an aesthetic, philosophical, and personal tour de force.
“Thoroughly absorbing” (New York Times Book Review).
“Brilliant and insightful” (Wall Street Journal).
“An attractive, well-illustrated scholarly book, further enlivened by the author’s warm and friendly tone” (Times Literary Supplement).
“A uniquely crafted history” (The Magazine Antiques).
“A brilliant work of criticism, without a word of jargon in it” (Maine Antique Digest).
“Sensitive and penetrating” (Choice).
“A meticulously researched account of [the Boits’] milieu, their eccentric lifestyle, its unintended effects on their daughters, and of the creation of the enchanting masterwork” (Cape Cod Times).