Boit, Edward Darley

Edward Darley Boit was born in Boston to a wealthy family and graduated from Harvard Law School in 1863. He practiced law for only a few years before leaving for Europe to pursue a career as a painter. Boit studied in Rome and eventually settled with his family in Paris, where in the 1870s he met and become close friends with John Singer Sargent. Sargent immortalized Boit’s four daughters in his haunting portrait, The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston), painted at the Boit’s residence at 32 Avenue de Friedland in Paris.

Boit painted in a direct style and always showed, “interest in specificity of site, climate, and date, common among French and American Impressionist artists” (Gerdts, Lasting Impressions: American painters in France, 1865-1915, 1992-B, p. 61). While Boit loved living abroad, he maintained his connection to the United States with annual return trips. He and his wife, Maria Louisa Cushing Boit, were active and well-liked members of the American artistic community in Paris. In her autobiography A Backward Glance, Boit’s acquaintance Edith Wharton described him as, “the brilliant water-colour painter whose talent Sargent so much admired.” Boit died in Rome in 1915 at the age of seventy-five.