Sister and Brother by Cecilia Beaux - 1897 private collection Sister and Brother by Cecilia Beaux - 1897 private collection

Sister and Brother

oil on canvas •
  • Cecilia Beaux - May 1, 1855 - September 17, 1942 Cecilia Beaux 1897

We are celebrating National Siblings Day with this charming scene that illustrates some of the dynamics between sisters and brothers. A fair-haired young boy, dressed in a frock, hides what is presumed to be a toy behind his back while confronted by his older sister. The perspective is from an adult gazing down upon the children from a slight distance away. Dark furniture in the room fades into the background and is almost unnoticeable. Horizontal brush strokes form the carpet and nearly envelop the children, making them the focal point. A dash of red draws the viewer’s eyes to the item in the boy’s hands. The girl’s demeanor and body language are poised and calm yet her dark eyes stare intently at her younger sibling. An ultimatum seems to be at hand. One can imagine the verbal exchange. Will her little brother surrender the plaything?

Acclaimed American artist Cecilia Beaux was known for her society portraits, successfully competing with John Singer Sargent, her contemporary, for commissions. Growing up near Philadelphia, she studied at the esteemed Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA). Despite her achievements, at age 32 she went to Paris to further hone her skills. Although this was during the heyday of Impressionism, Beaux did not embrace painting en plein air and remained true to her academic training. After two years abroad, she returned to the United States where she became the first woman to receive a full-time teaching position at PAFA. Beaux was the epitome of that era’s “New Woman”: educated, successful, focused on her career, and unmarried—she rejected several marriage proposals and chose to devote her life to her art.

- Martina Keogan


P.S. Here you will find a selection of beautiful paintings with artists’ children depicted by their mothers.