Considered to be one of the most innovative late 19th century American painters, Frank Duvenck lived and worked for the majority of his life in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he influenced many important American talents of the time, including John Henry Twachtman, Robert Blum and Edward Henry Potthast.
In the 1870's, Duveneck traveled to Munich, where the American artists were experimenting with a new technique, remininescent of the work of Frans Hals, where paint is applied in quick, broad strokes of color without the usual blending and careful details of earlier traditions. "Duveneck was uniquely suited to this new style, both because of his precocious skill with the brush and his temperament, which was more suited to brilliantly executing a study of a head in a day than to the careful production of a typical academic piece . . . . Typical painting by Duveneck of this period show a strongly modeled head or figure emerging from a dark, often not fully painted background, with few light or bright highlights." (Denny T. Young, Frank Duveneck (1848-1919) Virtuoso of the Brush, Taft Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio, July-October 1999)
Portrait of a Young Boy was most likely painted after a trip to The Prado in Madrid in 1895, where Duveneck copied Diego Velasquez's portrait of Philip IV as Hunter and is the probable inspiration for the present composition.
The painting is accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Michael Quick, dated May 15, 2000.