the daughters of edward darley boit
This painting changed my life. I first saw in on television on a Sister Wendy special on PBS. This painting gets compared to Las Meninas by Diego Velázquez, which I adore as well.
and while the subjects may mirror it, Las Meninas is about Velásquez controlling the situation that is so chaotic. In the painting his character is supposed to be painting the King and Queen. Infanta Margarita is being doted upon in the center, full of light, while Diegodear is hidden in the background. But he literally is still the more forceful figure, in his dark commanding garb, the only figure connected to the imposing canvas that slices the painting down the middle.
I like Daughters more. Las Meninas is generally considered one of the greatest paintings of all time, and I do enjoy it, but hey; I don’t love the Stones either.
In Sargent’s painting, which I discovered when I must have been about 12, he so well paint a portrait that isn’t stiff or posed. The girls look as if they had just looked towards their father coming home. In a progression of light in parallel with age, the girls circle into darkness. But even in the light the youngest girl look so sad and disappointed. These girls are sisters, but they are isolated from each other. Even the two eldest and closest together are looking in completely different directions. Sister Wendy pointed out that girls grew up to live alone, those two eldest would grow apart from each other and from the world. From someone who lived for words, I realized that art like literature boiled down into just that singular moment. But that doesn’t make the meaning singular.