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Boy on Stenciled Carpet

ca. 1838
Origin: America, Massachusetts, Lee
Unframed: 43 3/4 x 29 1/4in. (111.1 x 74.3cm) and Framed: 51 x 36 1/2in.
Oil on canvas
Gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller
Acc. No. 1931.100.3
A full-length portrait of a boy standing on a decoratively painted floor, stenciled floor cloth, or carpet. The background consists of varying shades of gray clouds that are lightest in an irregular area behind and to one side of the figure. The boy wears a bright blue dress that is trimmed with black and has short, puffed sleeves, a deep "V" treatment over the bodice, and a white ruffled collar trimming the wide neckline. Matching, ankle-length, blue pantaloons, white stockings, and black shoes complete the attire. The floor or floor covering on which he stands is yellow with abstract designs of green, blue, and red. The child holds an open, red-bound book in his proper right hand, which hangs down by his side. His brown hair is parted on the side.
The 4-inch mahogany-veneered cyma recta frame with a gilded liner is a period replacement.
Label:Field spent most of his long life in the area of Leverett, Massachusetts. He largely developed his own efficient and attractive painting style, though he did study portraiture with Samuel F. B. Morse (1791-1872) for several months during 1824.
Apparently Field was dissatisfied with his original positioning of this boy's empty hand, because he repainted it, placing it higher. The earlier design is now faintly visible through blue paint that has become translucent with age.
Characteristically, Field made no attempt to foreshorten the boldly stylized red, green, and yellow figured floor covering. It appears to run uphill and provides decorative splashes of color that contrast effectively with the swirling gray background. The boy's slippered feet seem to hover just above the floor, and his attenuated arms accentuate the vertical thrust of the composition.
Provenance:Found in Bridgeport, Conn., by Edith Gregor Halpert, Downtown Gallery, New York, NY; purchased from Halpert by Abby Aldrich Rockefeller 30 September 1931; given to CWF in 1939.