Thomas Hovenden, Study of a Boy Playing Banjo

Graphite on paper
Credit Line
Woodmere Art Museum: Gift of Mr. Stiles Tuttle Colwill, 2018
16 in. x 12 in.

Thomas Hovenden’s drawing of a young boy playing banjo bears a striking resemblance to a figure in a colored pencil drawing by his wife, Helen Corson. Her work, Uncle Ned and His Pupil (1881), depicts a beaming African American man who watches with pride as a young white boy carefully plucks the strings of a banjo. 

Samuel Jones, the African American model who sat for Corson’s work, also posed for all six of the genre paintings of African Americans Hovenden painted between 1881 and 1882. It is likely that the banjo-playing boy in this sketch is the same one who modeled for Hovenden’s wife.

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