Forthcoming Books

Sargent's Daughters
The Biography of a Painting

Erica E. Hirshler
Cover image for Sargent's Daughters. In the foreground, a young girl sits on a rug with a doll on her lap; In the background, two older girls are standing
Format Regular Price Member Price
Softcover $17.95 $16.16
262 pages, 25 color illustrations, 40 b&w illustrations

Henry James credited John Singer Sargent with a “knock-down insolence of talent.” Among the painter’s many renowned works, few deserve the phrase as much as The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit (1882), one of Sargent’s greatest images. The painting of four young sisters in the family apartment both follows and defies convention, crossing the boundaries between portrait and genre scene, formal composition and casual snapshot. At its unveiling, one prominent critic praised Sargent’s stunning originality, while another dismissed the canvas as “four corners and a void.” Drawing on unpublished archival documents, curator and scholar Erica E. Hirshler explores this iconic painting’s significance as an innovative work of art, the people involved in its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. This evocative account, newly available in paperback, simultaneously illuminates a much-loved painting and reaffirms its mystery. 

About the Authors

Erica E. Hirshler is Croll Senior Curator of Paintings at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.