28. Sargent’s Daughters

“John Singer Sargent never had daughters - or, in fact, any actual children.”

Sargent’s Daughters: The Biography of a Painting, Erica E. Hirshler

I bought this absolutely delightful book on a whim on a recent trip to Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.  This is, as it purports, a biography of a painting and it just happens to be the biography of one my favorite paintings, The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit, by John Singer Sargent.  I first became acquainted with it as a small girl visiting the museum, I bought a postcard of it that hung in my room forever, and I never go by the MFA without saying hello.  Something about the four girls caught my attention as a Victorian novel reading youngster, and all these years later I am still drawn to them, hidden in the shadows with their big blue vase.

Hirshler, a PhD in art history, felt the same way.  In the book she writes about the whole history of the painting - of Sargent, the Boit family, of why it was painted, what happened to it after, the critical reception, the reception today.  And she tells you about those girls that fascinate so.  Now, what happened to them isn’t what I had imagined, but real life is fascinating in its own way.  I very much enjoyed reading this and learned quite a bit - actually I wish I could read more short non-fiction works like it, about other iconic paintings.  Seems like a great idea for a series - take up the mantle, Ms. Hirshler!!

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017