By Angela Gonzalez, Curatorial Intern
John Neagle spent most of his time in Philadelphia where he received his artistic training. Alongside his friend and brother-in-law, Thomas Sully (1783-1828), Neagle dominated the art of portraiture in the city. Neagle spent some time in Boston where he studied the work of renowned artist Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828). It is evident through Neagle’s art that this stay in Boston had an influence on his compositions, especially portraiture.
Neagle painted a family portrait for his cousin John Dickson. The painting is comprised of Robert, Levi, John Jr., and James Dickson; these are the children of John. Each child is shown with rosy cheeks and prominent dark eyes. The group is situated around a table. Upon the table is a humorous stick drawing of the boy’s parents. Placed on top of the drawing is a pocket watch symbolizing the passage of the boy’s childhood. The children’s favored possessions are placed on the table, including a figurine and a trumpet.