- Hardcover: 262 pages
- Publisher: MFA Publications; First Edition edition (October 31, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0878467424
- ISBN-13: 978-0878467426
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 7.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #607,941 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Sargent's Daughters: The Biography of a Painting Hardcover – October 31, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
Anyone who has seen this painting has undoubtedly been affected by the almost sinister dark shadows which nearly engulf two of the four girls, and the odd, off-balance placement of the figures in a somewhat bare, large room, the foyer of the Boits' home in Paris in the late 1880's. Ms. Hirshler presents the sometimes sad and strange history of the Boit family, American ex-pats who spent most of their lives in Europe (like Sargent and many others) but always called Boston "home". It is a history that reads like a Henry James novel - indeed, James was a close friend of both the Boits and Sargent - and Hirshler provides us with the fascinating background of the times, the changing state of art, and the intimate details of the lives of four little girls whose images were captured in oils by one of the most acclaimed painters in Paris at the time.
There has been a strong and growing revival of interest in Sargent for the last 10-15 years, with several major exhibitions mounted throughout the U.S., and also some splendid art books delineating various stages of his career, to many of which Ms. Hirshler has contributed essays on Sargent's art.
Ms. Hirshler has given us a deeply insightful look into one of the finest paintings of the late 19th century, by a painter who was considered the very greatest American painter at the height of his career - it's well past time for Sargent's light to shine again, and Ms. Hirshler has presented us with an interesting and accessible book that will help that process.
FYI, the "Daughters" painting is in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, along with other Sargent paintings, watercolors and sketches.
Mary F. Burns, author
Given the prominence and wealth of the family and the long lives led by most of the children, it is startling how little direct source material is available on the four sisters.
Readers interested in a similar "biography" of another notable painting by John Singer Sargent may wish to read "Strapless" by Deborah Davis (2003).
Clearly, Ms. Hirshler's book was not going to be dryspeak that only a scholar could love. Although this book will satisfy scholars, it is also for people like me who have peripheral knowledge of art, at best, but are often captivated by a particular painting. Ms. Hirshler highlights cultural, social, and artistic lives of both expatriate painters and upper middle class Americans during the 19th and early 20th centuries along with the history of accolades and prejudices that art critics and viewers have brought to Sargent's painting.
Like scrims being lifted, "Sargent's Daughters:A Biography of a Painting", enlightens us but, as on a ballet stage, scrims remain, keeping intact a sense of mystery along with the beauty of this great painting.
This book answers those questions and more. It tells the story of the painting, the daughters in it and about their parents. It's a wonderful biography of a painting and family. I enjoyed knowing the story behind the large blue and white vases in the painting. It follows each of the daughter's lives in the painting and tells what happened to them ultimately. It's not altogether a happy story, but offers a snapshot of lives at the end of the 19th century into the 20th. An enjoyable read for art lovers--wish there was a biography of a painting so well-researched on all of our favorite works of art.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
ones interest. Love Sargent but not this book.