George Henry Yewell
George Henry Yewell (American, 1830–1923)
Oil on canvas
21 1/2 x 17 1/4 inches
Purchase through funds provided by patrons of Collectors Evening 2013
In Self Defense, a boy prepares a snowball, likely in response to one just launched at him. Yet the painting is not just of child’s play. In the background are advertisements for a notorious lottery scheme, a lowbrow musical rabble rouser, and an announcement for a performance of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the first staging of the play based on Harriet Beecher Stowe’s controversial book. As the boy defends himself against a faceless aggressor, Yewell hints that his viewers must brace themselves in an age of predatory schemers and rising political tension.