What was to become the project of a lifetime started as a family photograph. In the summer of 1974, Nicholas Nixon made a portrait of his wife, Bebe Brown, with her three sisters. Unsatisfied with the result, Nixon made another attempt the following summer, during the next family gathering. This would be the first picture of a continuing series, for the photographer and his four models decided to create the occasion for making a similar portrait each year. The Brown Sisters photographs are, in Nixon's own words, an "annual rite of passage": "one picture we all liked led to a whim, which led to an idea". This ritual tells all about passage of time and aging, as well as the deep mystery of blood ties.
Inscription: Inscribed and signed in pencil on print, verso LL to LR: "HEATHER BROWN, MIMI BROWN, BEBE BROWN NIXON, LAURIE BROWN TRANCHIN", "E. GREENWICH, R.I. 1980", "Nicholas Nixon"
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Johnson Gallery, Selections from the Collection 38," June 29, 2004–September 26, 2004.
Nixon, Nicholas. Nicholas Nixon: Pictures of People. New York: Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1988. p. 98.
Nixon, Nicholas. The Brown Sisters. New York: Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1999.
Dexter, Emma, and Thomas Weski, ed. Cruel and Tender: Photography and the Real. London: Tate Modern, 2003. p. 143.