Tuesday, February 15, 2011

redo a famous painting

Pinkie by Thomas Lawrence, a delicate portrait of eleven-year old Sarah Barrett Moulton and Blue Boy by Thomas Gainsborough, a portrait of a young man believed to be Jonathan Buttall, the son of a wealthy hardware merchant, were purchased by American railway pioneer Henry Edwards Huntington and displayed opposite each other in his private collection at, what is now, The Huntington Library in San Marino, California.

Since their chance pairing in the early 1920s, many gallery visitors have mistakenly attributed the two painting to the same artist. In reality, Blue Boy depicts a young man in period costume from one hundred and fifty years earlier and Pinkie is a contemporary painting (for 1794) of a young girl dressed appropriately for the late eighteenth century. In addition, the paintings were completed twenty-five years apart. The actual identity of Blue Boy remains a mystery, but years of research points to young Buttall as the most likely model. Pinkie was commissioned by the grandmother of Sarah Barrett Moulton, aunt of poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, although young Sarah passed away just a year after the painting's completion.

William Wilson, author of The Los Angeles Times Book of California Museums, calls them "the Romeo and Juliet of Rococo portraiture".


Belle said...

I saw Pinkie and Blue Boy at the Huntington museum when I was 19. They were wonderful. I was surprised by how large they were, I wasn't expecting that.

mike r. baker said...

Living close to The Huntington, I visit it often. Really beautiful paintings. Shame all those cheap reproductions hanging over plastic-cover sofas in the 60s make them seem a bit kitschy. Great work, Josh.