Interesting lecture last night by Malcom Rogers on “Sargent’s Sibling Rivalry”, comparing The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit (above) and his slightly later group portrait of The Wyndham Sisters.

A practical question comes to mind: what are the Boit daughters wearing? Three of the daughters are wearing pinafores, which (as I understand it) are chiefly a protective garment, like a kitchen apron, meant to preserve the clothes over which they are worn. The dresses they are protecting seem fairly simple and plain, while the pinafores are not. And the most fragile part of their outfit, I presume, would be their tights, which have no protection.

So, do I misunderstand the pinafore, or the dress? Sure, clothes used to cost a fortune, and even though the Boits were well off, they wouldn’t want to be constantly buying new dresses for all the girls. Or perhaps the pinafore had lost its purpose by 1882?