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Image of Portrait of Girl with Pets

James Henry Beard
American, 1812–1893

Portrait of Girl with Pets

about 1835

Object Type: Painting
Creation Place: North America, American
Dimensions:
28 in. x 23 in. (71.12 cm x 58.42 cm)
Medium and Support: Oil on canvas
Accession Number: 1939.0030

Credit Line: Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts Association Purchase
Copyright: © Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts


James Henry Beard was a native of New York but painted portraits in both the Midwest and South in the early nineteenth century. Portrait of a Girl with Pets probably dates from early in Beard’s career in the 1830s, during which he was noted for his portraits of children and small animals. The young girl sits in a fanciful landscape with a guinea pig on her lap and a pink-eyed white rabbit at her left knee. Both pets feed on a single sprig of greenery that the girl holds in her left hand. Her strawberry-blond hair hangs in curls, which were popular during the decades prior to the Civil War. From the colonial era, the depiction of children with animals, primarily pets, was a common practice. The inclusion of pets with a child served to distinguish the child as a distinct individual and also served as a link to the natural world.

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