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Seymour Joseph Guy - Up for Repairs

Seymour Joseph Guy (1824-1910), British- American

Up for Repairs, 1875

OIL ON CANVAS, MOUNTED ON MASONITE, I5 7/8 x 11 7/8 inches

Gift of Horace Fairbanks

Trained in his native London before immigrating to the United States in 1854, Seymour Joseph Guy rose to prominence as a painter of children's daily life in the wake of the Civil War. In Up for Repairs, the artist portrays a boy who has ripped the leg of his pants and is trying to mend the damage before being discovered. Through a carefully contrived series of gestures, spaces, and expressions, Guy shows that the boy's ruse is up.

Such levity found ready patronage in the later nineteenth century, though critics derided the artist's pandering to popular taste. As art historian Elizabeth Johns has observed, the preferred subjects of American genre painters shifted in emphasis following the Civil War, moving away from the nation's public culture and toward domestic life, of which Up for Repairs is a representative example.