Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Boit's vases

"Their rims damaged from their travels, the vases are the only objects to have survived and now flank their painted doubles in Boston." - Ruth Bernard Yeazell
When the Boit family's vases, depicted in John Singer Sargent's painting of the Boit daughters, arrived at the Museum of Fine Arts in 1986, "they contained a cigar stub,a paper airplane, a pink ribbon, a tennis ball, sheets of geography lessons, a letter about the repeal of Prohibition, an Arrow shirt collar, an old doughnut, an admission card to a dance at the Eastern Yacht Club in Marblehead, Massachusetts, three badminton shuttlecocks, many coins and a feather." The painting appears to reflect Sargent's encounter with Velazquez's "Las Meninas," which he copied while visiting Madrid in 1879. (The painting dates from 1882.) The quotes are from Ruth Bernard Yeazell's review of Sargent's Daughters (MFA 2009) in the London Review of Books, 5 August 2010, pages 20-21.

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