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Buffalo Newsboy

Public Domain

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Public Domain

Image downloads are for educational use only. For all other purposes, please see our Obtaining and Using Images page.

Thomas Le Clear

American, 1818-1882

Buffalo Newsboy, 1853

oil on canvas

support: 24 x 20 inches (60.96 x 50.8 cm); framed: 30 1/4 x 26 1/4 x 2 1/2 inches (76.83 x 66.67 x 6.35 cm)

Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York

Charlotte A. Watson Fund, 1942

1942:3

More Details

Inscriptions

signature, dated / lower left / T. Le Clear/1853

Provenance

the artist;
sold to Col. Henry K. Viele, Buffalo, NY, 1853;
remained in the Viele family until purchased from Grace Viele by Albright Art Gallery, March 12, 1942

Class

Paintings

Work Type

Oil painting

This information may change due to ongoing research. Glossary of Terms

By the time Thomas Le Clear took up residence in Buffalo in 1847, he had already established a significant national reputation as a portrait painter. Le Clear’s Buffalo Newsboy depicts a young worker taking a break from selling copies of the Buffalo Evening Post, a daily newspaper of the era. Among the different broadsides pasted to the walls behind him is one that clues viewers in to the prevalence of such workers: “Attention. 50 Boys Wanted.” Throughout the nineteenth century, newsboys were among the most common and visible embodiments of child labor in American cities. In some ways, this painting downplays the harshness child laborers experienced during this time. Working for pennies, come rain or shine, they stood on street corners and circulated in saloons before, after, and sometimes during school. Yet in Le Clear’s depiction of the theme, this young subject, with cheeks made rosy by the cold, is shown taking a break to enjoy a shiny apple, seemingly unbothered by a coat that does not fit and the holes in his boots.  

Le Clear’s connections to the Buffalo art scene during this time extend beyond his role as an artist. In 1862, he was also one of the founders of The Buffalo Fine Arts Academy (the parent organization of the Albright-Knox) and served as the Academy’s first superintendent.

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