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Boy with a Fishing Pole

ca. 1840 Unidentified oil on canvas 27 1/8 x 21 5/8 in. (69 x 55 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of William Boswell in memory of H. Curley Boswell 1973.152.2 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 3rd Floor, 14B


Luce Center Label

With his wide eyes, flushed cheeks, and curls, this young fellow evokes an ideal of boyhood. Childhood in the nineteenth century was seen as a too-brief stage in life, much like the fleeting moment the artist caught in this image. Boys were encouraged to exert themselves outdoors, with fishing, sledding, swimming, and ball games. An active life taught young boys to be competitive and tough, and helped them to grow into confident and successful men, a role that was not as far off as the boys might have imagined. (Mintz, Huck’s Raft: A History of American Childhood, 2004).

Keywords

Portrait male - unidentified - child

Portrait male - unidentified - waist length

Recreation - sport and play - fishing

painting

paint - oil

fabric - canvas