Portrait of a Scheming Boy

Oil on canvas portrait of a scheming child, c. 1920, by Clarence J. Monro. The portrait depicts a boy in a youth’s version of the Army Air Corps uniform, with toy airplane in hand. But this isn’t child’s play: the expression on the boy’s face is deadly serious, and he considers the viewer with a cold, conniving stare over a devious smile, as if appraising a potential target of his next airborne attack. This is a portrait of the unadulterated malice distilled in the childhood bully. With his enthusiasm for aerial warfare, who knows: in 20 years, this unidentified boy sociopath might have ascended the ranks of the Army Air Corps and overseen the bombing of Dresden with the same pointed malevolent intensity. Forget the justifications of the War Hawks and top brass to bomb this or that country, their true motivation is depicted here: in the cruel, ice-blue eyes of a warmongering child. (Anyway, that’s this eye of the beholder.)

Clarence J. Monro (1877-1934) was a painter, illustrator and lithographer. His illustrations appeared in contemporary periodicals, such as the cover of House Beautiful in July 1925. He also worked as an art director at an advertising agency and lithography company. The sitter is unknown in this portrait, but it was likely commissioned work.



34 inches tall

31 inches wide



Very good antique condition, with some attractive wear to frame, and the painting could benefit from a cleaning, though it displays well as found.



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