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Boy on Empire Sofa

1837-1844
Origin: America, New York, New York
Unframed: 34 1/2 x 27in. (87.6 x 68.6cm) and Framed: 38 1/2 x 31 1/2in.
Oil on canvas
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1958.100.22
A full-length portrait of a young boy seated on a black-upholstered empire sofa whose frame is grain-painted or veneered. He is turned slightly towards the viewer's left. He wears a dark brown coat with black lapels and black floral decoration in the lower corner, the coat fastened by a single button at his waist. He also wears long, white trousers and a white shirt, the latter having ruffles and lace down the front and a stiff, round, ruffled collar that projects horizontally away from his neck. He holds a silver headed cane in his proper left hand and an open copy of a book in his other hand. His short, dark brown hair is parted on the side and is curled over each ear; his eyes are dark blue. The background is brown and lighter in the area directly behind his figure. The painted floor or carpeting is deep purple with floral patterns of reds and yellow-greens surrounded by swags or petalled medallions of yellow-green.

The 3-inch cove-molded gilded frame with a splayed outer edge is a period replacement.
Label:John Bradley immigrated to America about 1826, previously having lived and painted in Suffolk, England. Little is known of his early life and training. On several of his American portraits he inscribed his name and the words “from Great Britton,” implying that he took pride in his origin and perhaps hoped his British background would appeal to customers.

The boy’s rather stiff position on the edge of his seat suggests his eagerness to finish posing. A silver-headed, child-sized walking stick and an elegant black-embroidered coat reflect his parents’ affluence, while their attention to his education is confirmed by the copy of The History of Robin Hood in his hand.
Provenance:J. Stuart Halladay and Herrel George Thomas, Sheffield, Mass. Halladay died in 1951, leaving his interest in their jointly-owned collection to his partner, Thomas. Thomas died in 1957, leaving his estate to his sister, Mrs. Albert N. Petterson, who was AARFAC's vendor.
Inscription(s):Painted in the lower right corner is "by J. Bradley/128 Spring Str." Painted on the pages of the book in the subject's hand is "The History of Robin Hood."