Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Daughters of Edward Dailey Boit

Painted by John Singer Sargent in the early 1880s and first exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1883, The Daughters of Edward Dailey Boit never failed to elicit criticism and praise.

In Erica E. Hirshler's examination of the history of the painting in her work, Sargent's Daughters: The Biography of a Painting, she explores and disseminates the art world of the late nineteenth century, but she also looks at the biographical information of the lives of the four young girls who were the subjects of the painting as well as that of their parents.

With twenty-five pages of notes from the unpublished archival papers used to document her study of the painting and its subjects, Hirshler's affinity for detail and fact only support the lasting impact that this work of art had on the genre of the time as well as how "the buzz" of the portrait affected the Boit family.

This is not a page turner; in fact, Hirshler's writing is quite dry. [no pun intended]

I stayed with it because, well, I am nosy enough to want to know why Sargent posed them in such an unusual way, and I wished to know what happened to those four girls.

I got half of what I wanted. :)


  1. It's a beautiful painting - and now I'm hooked just enough to go find out whay he painted it that way.

  2. Hmm. When I discover something about a piece of artwork through outside-sources it either makes or breaks the art piece for me.

    E.G.1 I've really hated some modern art until I've read the plaque and discovered what is depicted (and then been able to see it) and then appreciated it greatly.

    E.G.2 In another instance I really loved this sculpture until I read an article on it by the author's intent and thought it was a poor attempt at expressing an even poorer philosophy, and so despised the work afterwards.

    Which brings me to the point I'm interested in (am I writing a blog entry in your blog? I'm so sorry, but we're already here, so let's just finish this.) I wonder if art needs or should have to explain itself. Does it make it any lesser or greater for needing something to explain it? I don't know, food for thought.

    Now that I had my one cultural thought for the day I'm gonna' go eat some Cap'n Crunch and watch Ricky Lake for a few hours.