Art of the Day -- John Singer Sargent


John Singer Sargent

For today's art of the day, I decided to throw it back to an old post about some of my favourite John Singer Sargent paintings. This one is called The Daughters Of Edward Darley Boit.

John Singer Sargent 1882 The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit Museum of Fine Arts Boston

There's something haunting in this painting. It makes me slightly uncomfortable. In fact, my first thought was that these aren't ordinary happy children at all.

The two girls hidden almost entirely in the shadows, one of them not even looking forward, made me think of their attitude toward their father. Maybe earlier she was chastised for doing something wrong. Or maybe it is all much simpler, they're just children embarrassed at having their portrait drawn. There's been some discussion about the girls in the shadows being children of servants, not Boit himself. I don't agree with that. The title clearly states they are his daughters. In person, it never occurred to me that they might not all be related.

The younger girl on the floor has an expression the perfect blend of curiosity and indifference, characteristic of children. John Singer Sargent is absolutely brilliant for having captured this.

The simplicity of the young girl's expression is in direct juxtaposition with that of the girl on the left. When I saw this painting, I kept staring back and forth between their two faces. Her pose is stoic, as is her face, and she strikes me as someone who has been taught early on what is expected of her.

I thought, after seeing this, that Boit was a very strict father...Or maybe something much darker lurked beneath the surface.

Check out the rest of the post here. Or visit the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston to see it in person!