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Children Playing

ca. 1813
Origin: America, Connecticut
Primary Support: 7 13/16 x 9 5/8in. (19.8 x 24.4cm) and Framed: 8 3/4 x 10 11/16in.
Watercolor and ink on laid paper
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1958.301.2
Scene painted within confines of yellow-rimmed oval which extends to edges of paper. Corner areas painted black, w/tiny margin of paper left unpainted (0-1/8"). Group of 5 figures (children) playing on open, grassy spot rendered wonderfully hilly by artist's typical stratification of striated grass. 2 large buildings to r., another group of buildings to l., one with steeple. Sky is faintly pink-streaked w/pink clouds on horizon as is at sunset. Thick stand of trees along horizon line. 1 child (in ochre suit) crouches in foreground. Other 4 children (1 girl in red dress, 2 barefoot boys in blue suits, and 1 boy in red suit) each carry a hat in one hand. 1 blue-suited boy also carries what resembles a beanbag. All appear to be swatting one another (or avoiding swats) with hats.
The 1/2-inch rippled gilded frame is possibly original.
Label:This watercolor's undulating mounds and hillocks contribute to an overall sense of rhythm and movement built up by the whirling arms and legs of the children. The game being played by the youngsters has not been identified precisely, but it would appear to resemble a roughhouse-period pastime called Bait the Bear [note 1]. However, it should be noted that the four running figures are repeated nearly exactly in another Pinney watercolor in which the crouching child is replaced by a seated adult woman. Furthermore, in the related watercolor, the capture of an oversize butterfly hovering near the woman's feet appears to be the objective of the two children with raised hats at right. Because of the close similarity of poses, it is assumed that the Folk Art Museum's watercolor was produced about the same time as the other, which is signed by the artist and dated 1813 [Note 2].
Around her watercolors, Pinney frequently drew or painted a bordered oval that acts as a visual frame. Most likely she copied the format from period engravings, which often were similarly presented. It is assumed that this watercolor derives from such a print, possibly an illustration in a children's book, but to date the source remains unlocated.


Provenance:J. Stuart Halladay and Herrell 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.