Work of Art: Portrait of a Boy
Jacob Marling
Portrait of a Boy
after 1810
Oil on canvas, mounted on wood
26 x 22 in. (66.0 x 55.9 cm)
Purchased with funds from the State of North Carolina

No one knows who this boy was, which is ironic because his family undoubtedly commissioned the portrait to preserve his likeness. He may have lived in North Carolina, where the artist resided during the second and third decades of the 19th century. It can be assumed that the family had the means to afford the portrait, although the artist did not charge large fees. The book the boy holds indicates that he was being educated. The painter settled in Raleigh in hopes of winning portrait business from some of the legislators who convened there. He was at that time probably the only professional painter living in the city. The unknown boy was in good company, since the painter also portrayed illustrious residents of Raleigh such as General William Blount of the War of 1812, a member of the General Assembly. The general also held a book in his portrait.

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