There are few portrait subjects more interesting than sisters. Thanks to their physical likeness and their close familial bond, sisters seem made for portraits. Almost all siblings are captured in photographs or paintings during their youth. My sister and I were photographed twice during our teenage years. In one photo, we are posed in our living room while wearing our party dresses. The other photo was taken outside and was far more casual. But the portrait for which my sister and I have yet to pose is the glamour shot of us as adults. Something tells me this portrait may never happen, either.
Take a look at the portrait above, a 1950 Cecil Beaton photograph that shows the Wyndham-Quin sisters. The photo is rather grand, but there is a historical precedent for it: the photograph is meant to emulate the famous John Singer Sargent portrait of the Wyndham sisters who were related to the Wyndham-Quin sisters above. In fact, Beaton took many photos of sisters, most notably his own sisters, Nancy and Baba.
Below, you'll see a sampling of some prominent sister acts. I didn't bother to include photos of the Cushing or Miller sisters because we're all familiar with those photos. But I have to say that my favorite of all of the portraits is that of Queen Elizabeth with the late Queen Mother and Princess Margaret. They were quite the regal vision in purple satin, don't you think?
"The Wyndham Sisters" by John Singer Sargent, 1899. Collection of Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Mrs. Stavros Niarchos and Mrs. Aristotle Onassis, the Livanos sisters. Photograph by Henry Clarke, 1957.
Mrs. John F. Kennedy and Mrs. Michael T. Canfield, also known as the Bouvier sisters, captured in a 1955 photograph by Horst.
The Princess of Wales (later Queen Alexandra) and her sister Dagmar (later Marie Feodorovna, wife of Alexander III of Russia), two daughters of Danish king Christian IX. Photograph circa 1873.
"The Linley Sisters" by Thomas Gainsborough, 1772. Collection of Dulwich Picture Gallery, London.
A portrait of Nancy and Baba Beaton by Cecil Beaton, c. 1925.
Also by Beaton is this photograph of two Bright Young Things, twins Zita and Teresa Jungman.
A portrait of sisters Thelma Furness and Gloria Vanderbilt.
Model sisters Suzy Parker and Dorian Leigh.
A Norman Parkinson photo of Queen Elizabeth with the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret, 1980.