Sargent’s Daughters: The Biography of a Painting



ISBN: 9780878468607 Category:

Erica E. Hirshler


A paperback edition of the book described by the New York Times Book Review as ‘thoroughly absorbing’.

Henry James minced no words in crediting 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, which stands alongside Madame X and Lady Agnew of Lochnaw as one of Sargent’s greatest images.

The painting, depicting four young sisters in the family apartment (first exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1883, it predated by just one year the scandal of Madame X), both explores and defies convention, crossing the boundaries between portrait and genre scene, formal composition and casual snapshot. At its unveiling, one prominent critic rushed to praise Sargent’s stunning originality, while another dismissed the canvas as ‘four corners and a void.’ Using numerous unpublished archival documents, Erica E. Hirshler explores this iconic canvas from a variety of angles, discussing its innovative significance as a work of art, the people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

Additional information

Weight 374 g
Dimensions 14.1 x 19.3 cm
Publisher name MFA Publications
Publication date 25 June 2019
Number of pages
Format Paperback / softback
Dimensions 14.1 x 19.3 cm
Weight 374 g
Erica E. Hirshler is Croll Senior Curator of American Paintings at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.