It has been a long and interesting journey that started fifteen years ago when I saw a major exhibit of Sargent's works at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. As I start this blog about my novel, the artist and his art, I want to show you the painting that was the beginning of it all for me: Portraits d'Enfants, also known as The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit. I hope you keep coming back for more, as there is a lot more to see.
This portrait was painted in 1883. I stood in front of this painting for a very long time, and came back to it again and again--there was a mystery here, I felt it very deeply--and then I later read a single sentence about the Boit girls attributed to Sister Wendy Beckett of PBS Art fame, “There’s something sad about the picture, and when I discovered that these four pretty, wealthy girls never married, not one of them, one begins to feel that Sargent had intuited something of that….”
I said to myself, I have to write a novel about them, some day. But what started out as a story about the four daughters became instead a story about the artist and his portraits during a very intense, deeply creative time in his life: Paris, 1882-1884, when he painted not only this unique portrait, but also others whose stories are worth investigating....more to come.