Portrait of William Anton Shafer


William James Hubard (American, 1807–1862)


ca. 1848–1862


Oil on canvas


Image/Sight: 40 1/2 x 30 3/4 inches


Gift of Randy Siegel in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Rudolph Augustus Siegel

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Trained as a paper silhouette artist in his native England, William James Hubard turned to oil painting at the encouragement of the American painters Thomas Sully and Gilbert Stuart, whom he met in Philadelphia. He traveled south to Richmond, where he established himself as a respected portrait painter. This undated portrait is a fine example of this Southern-based artist’s work. The subject is a young boy of about five to seven years of age, shown in elegant dress and leaning against a rocking horse. Common possessions among the children of the well-to-do in the United States in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, rocking horses not only served as childhood entertainment, but also offered young children the opportunity to imitate the equestrian skills they were expected to acquire as adults. The rocking horse in this portrait is elaborate, with a pony hide, horsehair mane and tail, and a decorated bridle.

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