The Boy with the Arrow

  • Douglas Volk, The Boy with the Arrow, 1903, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of William T. Evans, 1909.7.68

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Douglas Volk’s son, Leo, sits in a lush field at twilight, catching his breath from a day's excitement outdoors. He holds the arrow in a relaxed grip, as a confident young hunter would carry his spear. Leo occupies a transitional time in life, no longer a boy and not yet a man. In the early twentieth century the term "adolescence" came into popular use, and psychologists encouraged parents to guide their children through these turbulent years (Mintz, Huck's Raft: A History of American Childhood, 2004). The character of Peter Pan, a boy who did not want to grow up, first appeared in the pages of Scribner’s Magazine the year before this painting was made. In this climate, Volk exhibited the painting at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair to great acclaim. He pictured his son as an energetic American boy, but the classical, pastoral setting also conveyed a timeless ideal of youth on the verge of adulthood.
The Boy with the Arrow
On View
Not on view.
46 1/8 x 36 1/8 in. (117.1 x 91.6 cm.)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of William T. Evans

Mediums Description
oil on canvas
  • Landscape – tree
  • Recreation – sport and play – archery
  • Portrait male – Volk, Leo – child
Object Number
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

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