Portrait of Charles H. Brewer (Boy Fishing with Dog)
Portrait of Charles H. Brewer (Boy Fishing with Dog)

Portrait of Charles H. Brewer (Boy Fishing with Dog)

Jacob Cox (American, 1810-1892)

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Jacob Cox was trained as a tinsmith, a trade that he followed for a time even after he began painting in the early 1840s.

Cox received many portrait commissions but found more personal enjoyment in painting landscapes.

The carefully depicted pet and the image of leisure activity combine to create an engaging impression of the boy’s personality and interests.


Jacob Cox was born in Burlington New Jersey, the first of ten children born to a Quaker couple who died in separate ferry accidents. Cox’s grandfather and aunt in Washington, Pennsylvania became his guardians. By that time the young Cox was already interested in art. He was apprenticed to a tinsmith at the age of sixteen. In 1830, Cox and his brother established a tinsmith shop, first in Pittsburgh and later in Indianapolis. The business prospered forcing Cox to pursue his painting during his spare time. By 1835 painting portraits was added to Cox’s business. Cox closed his shop and traveled to Cincinnati to study with John Dunn, returning to Indianapolis to paint portraits of such local notables as Senator Oliver Smith, Governors David Wallace and Noah Noble, State Treasurer Samuel Merrill, and numerous prominent businessmen and their families. His success enabled Cox to travel to New York City to study briefly at the National Academy of Design. Upon his return, he found time to add landscapes and still life to his repertoire. When the Indiana School of Art was established in Indianapolis in 1877, Cox became one of its teachers. He continued to paint and exhibit until his death at eighty one.

Cox’s portrait of Charles H. Brewer hung in his son Charles’s home for fifty-five years before it was offered as a gift to the IMA. The family recounts that the elder Brewer was about twelve years old when Cox painted him. According to Brewer’s son, the artist finished the painting in his studio, added the fishing rod and dog, which did not belong to the sitter. Such attributes, including the imaginary landscape in the background, were common practices in nineteenth century portraiture and served to enhance the sitter’s status or, in this case, add to the image of a childhood.


Paintings by Jacob Cox a Retrospective Exhibition of Work by an Early Indianapolis Artist, Indianapolis: John Herron Art Museum, 1941. ASIN: B001O1F2TS

Object Information

Jacob Cox (American, 1810-1892)
creation date
about 1868
oil on canvas
46 x 35 in.
61-7/8 x 49-1/2 in. (framed)
accession number
credit line
Gift of the Family of Charles H. Brewer and Bessie E. Brewer
Public Domain
American Painting and Sculpture to 1945

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