Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Portrait Gallery: The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit

Mr. Sargent, again. His portraits astonish me, and the chance to see this one at the Boston MFA before we left was wonderful (as was, unusually for a museum restaurant, lunch - a Sunday jazz brunch with a nice glass of Champagne does wonders for the art-viewing exerience, not to mention Mr. Muscato's patience).

But back to the girls. There they are, four Victorian misses, captured by the painter somewhere between Alice in Wonderland and Wednesday Addams. They totally lack the cloying affectations of children of the era, and the three who are looking at us have stares that are unnervingly direct and appraising: Who are you, and why are you in our drawing room?

The dish queen in me was thrilled to see that the MFA displays the painting flanked by the Boit's rather distinguished blue-and-white vases. Mr. Sargent did them justice, but it's nice to see them in person, as it were.

The indispensable John Singer Sargent Virtual Gallery has an especially insightful dissection of the picture here. Apparently, the girls went on to fulfill, in various ways, the destinies he had painted for them. No surprise; that's what you get when you let a genius, of all things, into your drawing room.

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