Oil on canvas
Overall: 24 x 30 in. ( 61 x 76.2 cm ) Framed: 34 in. × 40 in. × 4 1/2 in. (86.4 × 101.6 × 11.4 cm)
Signature and date: at lower right: WM. S. MOUNT / 1835
Like Farmer's Bargaining (N-YHS 1858.59), Undutiful Boys, Mount's second picture for the New York art collector, Luman Reed, was painted outdoors on the Mount farm in Stony Brook, New York. The scene features four young truant gamblers who have abandoned their farm chores and are gathered in a circle "hustling coppers," or pennies, on the floor in Mount's barn. Approaching from the left, an elder farmer, who has presumably been hard at work, seems determined to punish the truant boys with the switch in his right hand. As in Farmer's Bargaining, Mount's faithful depiction of the ambiance and details of country life was no doubt enhanced by his childhood experience as a farmer boy and his long residence in a farming community. Undutiful Boys should also be seen in the context of a larger national trend to celebrate American rural life and childhood. The majority of Mount's contemporaries, including Reed, had grown up in farming communities. Moreover, the veneration of the farmer reached new heights in the Era of Jacksonian Democracy, particularly as the country began to shift from an agrarian nation to a more industrial one. For Reed, who had moved from the Hudson River town of Coxsackie to New York City in 1815, Mount's painting of rural farmers would have served as a nostalgic reminder of his origins. Reed is reported to have paid $220.00 for the picture.
Vedder, Lee A. "Nineteenth-century American paintings." The Magazine Antiques 167 (2005): 146-155.
Gift of The New-York Gallery of the Fine Arts
New-York Gallery of the Fine Arts, 1844-58 Mrs. Luman Reed, New York, 1836-44 Luman Reed, d. 1836
Due to ongoing research, information about this object is subject to change.