The women in this portrait were Bessie (left) and Clara Stillman, the sisters of the powerful financier James Stillman.
Abbott Handerson Thayer’s biographer, Nelson C. White, recorded an anecdote about his own experience of viewing this painting at an exhibition in 1922: “I was looking at the picture when two elderly women came and stood before it. As I glanced from the canvas to their faces I suddenly realized that they were the subjects of the portrait. Thayer had rendered their character in their youth with such insight and feeling that the likenesses survived the modulations of age and easily identified them.”
(Text by the Brooklyn Museum, CC BY 3.0).