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Head of a Boy

Love, John Washington (American, 1850-1880)


John Washington Love

Head of a Boy, about 1876

oil on canvas

9 x 7 inches

Gift of Frederick A Hetherington

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John Washington Love arrived in Indianapolis with his parents when he was ten years old.  After studying in the public schools and Northwestern Christian University, Love decided to become an artist.  He entered the studio of Barton Hays and later went to Cincinnati to continue his studies.  After a year he went to New York and entered the School of the National Academy of Design.  He then traveled to Paris and was the first Indiana artist to enter the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the Atélier Gérôme where he studied for four years.  After six years of European study, Love return to Indianapolis and set up the first Indiana School of Art with fellow artist James F. Gookins. Love’s promising career was cut short with his death at the age of thirty.

Love’s study of a young boy shows a looser brushwork and more spontaneous approach than that of earlier figure paintings.  Love’s casual, informal treatment is particularly apparent in the boy’s sidelong glance.  His white collar bring our his facial features that would otherwise be lost in the dark background.


Mary Q. Burnet.  Art and Artists of Indiana, New York: The Century Company, 1921. Reprinted by Unigraphic, Inc., 1981.  ASIN: B002J7QO2K

Object Information

Love, John Washington (American, 1850-1880)
creation date
oil on panel
9 x 7 in. (panel)
15-3/4 x 13-3/4 x 2 in. (framed)
accession number
credit line
Gift of Frederick A. Hetherington
Public Domain
American Painting and Sculpture to 1945

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