The Daughters of Edward D. Boit (1882) by John Singer Sargent

The Daughters of Edward D. Boit - John Singer Sargent - 1882

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Artwork Information

TitleThe Daughters of Edward D. Boit
ArtistJohn Singer Sargent
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions221.93 x 222.57 cm
Art MovementRealism
Current LocationMuseum of Fine Arts (MFA), Boston

About The Daughters of Edward D. Boit

The artwork titled “The Daughters of Edward D. Boit” is a masterful oil on canvas painting by John Singer Sargent, created in 1882. As a renowned piece within the Realism art movement, it measures approximately 221.93 by 222.57 cm. This portrait genre painting is currently housed in the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston, providing viewers a glimpse into the lives of the four Boit daughters with a captivating realism that Sargent is celebrated for.

The painting presents the four young Boit daughters positioned in an elegant, shadowy interior space that is both intimate and strangely vast. The composition is striking for its unusual spatial organization and the way it eschews traditional portraiture norms of the time. Two of the girls stand near the center of the artwork, beside a towering blue-and-white porcelain vase that punctuates the scene with its intricate details and imposing presence. The vase, along with the dark, rich tones of the background, emphasizes the youth and innocence of the girls, who are dressed in simple, white frocks with hints of black.

To the left, the youngest appears solitary, standing with a slightly tilted head and a gaze that seems to extend past the confines of the artwork, creating a feeling of immediacy and connection with the viewer. To the right, behind a jarring red screen, stands the eldest, with her presence somewhat muted and veiled from direct interaction with her sisters. On the floor sits the fourth daughter, her posture casual and relaxed, directly engaging the viewer with her gaze. She is illuminated by a stream of light, which brings contrast and softness to her figure against the dim interior.

The artwork employs dramatic lighting and a nuanced palette to capture the psychological depth and distinctive personalities of the girls, rather than just their physical likenesses. The spatial arrangement within the artwork creates a narrative tension, hinting at the complexity of family dynamics and individuality. In this way, Sargent’s work transcends the conventions of its genre, offering a profound meditation on childhood, relationships, and the passage of time.

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