Four Children in a Courtyard
Jeremiah Paul, American, first documented 1791, died 1820
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Portraiture is the subject of this picture: as the boy attempts to strike a pose appropriate for posterity, the girl attentively records his likeness. Jeremiah Paul based this image on a print after a work by British artist Richard Morton Payne; the practice of using imported prints as models was common among American painters of the time. While Paul’s contemporaries noted his diverse undertakings and peripatetic lifestyle, they also praised his precocious talent. He produced portraits, genre scenes (realistic depictions of everyday life), and historical paintings like The Death of Julius Caesar and The Washington Family, as well as signs, phantasmagorias, stage scenery, and a nine-by-seven-foot Venus and Cupid.