Nothing can really compare to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s “El Jaleo’’ or the Museum of Fine Arts’ “The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit,’’ but when I’m asked to name my favorite picture by John Singer Sargent, I often nominate this one.

It’s a great picture – but, I freely admit, it’s also personal. My wife, a violinist, ran off to Paris to join the circus, and it so happened she chose the Cirque d’Hiver. She was kind enough to bring me with her, and so I spent a lot of time in the steeply sweeping, circular interior depicted here by Sargent.


Sebastian Smee
Boston Globe