Alexander HarrisonU.S. 1853-1930
The Fisher Boy 25.0129
The young boy, which Alexander Harrison described to the painting's donor and museum founder, Charles August Ficke, as "shy and dreamy" leans against an old brick wall, obviously taking time out from fishing to display his day's catch. Ppainted with the specificity of a portrait, Harrison has drawn our attention to the poverty of the boy, to his ragged trousers and scrap of a sock, by framing these elements with the boy's hoop. The all-over quality of the light and the boy's wistful expression add a timelessness and a sentimental aspect to the work. The Fisher Boy was exhibited by Harrison at the 1883 Salon in Paris under the title, Une Esclave (A Slave). Along with James McNeill Whistler and Mary Cassatt, Harrison was an ex-patriate. Initially traveling to Paris to study with the well-known academic painter, Jean Léon Gérôme, Harrison ended up becoming an important member of the Pont-Avon art colony in Brittany, France, where artist Paul Gauguin would eventually work. He favored seascapes (Harrison's two brothers were also marine painters) and genre scenes depicting people at the beach, at leisure or at work. Harrison's subject in Fisher Boy seems to be about both.
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