Monday, December 28

Discovering "Blue Boy," "Pinkie," and "Red Boy"

Today’s Image
Sarah Barret Moulton: Pinkie by Sir Thomas Lawrence
In the Public Domain
This is the time of year when people tend to do a lot of reminiscing about holidays past and the year--in this case, the decade--coming to a close. That got me to thinking about some of the art I remember from my childhood. Without giving out the exact timeframe, I will only say that it was a while back.

Some of the art I remember from my grandmother’s house is indelibly burned up there in my brain, and I can see it "there" whenever I want to.

Hanging on her walls were "Blue Boy," "Red Boy," and "Pink Lady." At least that’s what she called them, so that’s what we called them. I’m still lucky enough to be in possession of "Red Boy" and "Pink Lady," although "Blue Boy" somehow vanished over the years.

These are framed prints, of course. If we had the originals, I wouldn’t be sitting here writing a blog about them, now would I?

I decided to do a little online research after I recently viewed "Red Boy" and "Pink Lady" again. Here’s what I found out. I hope you find it interesting.

"Blue Boy" is really called THE Blue Boy, and it’s by Thomas Gainsborough painted around 1770. According to Wikipedia it was Gainsborough’s most famous painting, and it’s a portrait of a man with the unflattering name of Jonathan Buttall. It says it is a historical costume study intended to pay homage to the Dutch painter Van Dyck of Charles II. It stayed in collections in Europe until it was sold to American railroad magnate, Henry Huntington, in 1921. It hangs today in the Huntington Museum in San Marino, California.

Based on the comment received by a reader, I subsequently edited this blog to clarify information about the painting known as Red Boy. Blue Boy and Red Boy are often thought of together because of the obvious similarity in names; however, the real Red Boy was painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence depicitng Charles William Lambton.

The painting we were calling"Red Boy" is actually titled Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zuniga by Francisco de Goya, painted about 1790. It shows a little boy in a fancy red suit with lace standing next to a cat and a bird cage. The original hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

And it turns out, "Pink Lady" is actually Sarah Barrett Moulton:“Pinkie” also by Sir Thomas Lawrence. It was painted about 1794. Sarah was the daughter of a wealthy plantation owner in Jamaica, and her family nickname was Pinkie. It also hangs in the Huntington Museum.

Anyway, I’m glad to know the actual titles and artists of these three paintings that I remember so vividly from childhood and which I still enjoy today. Perhaps they sparked my interest in art.

I have one more “mystery” painting from my grandmother’s house that I’ll discuss in my next blog. Maybe you can help me discover its origin.



  1. Thanks for the information, I recently found The Blue boy and the Red Boy in etching and the are signed.They were framed in Salsburg
    by Adolf Gunther 27-q-14 can anyone tell me more. Thank you !

    1. Red Boy is actually Mastor Lambton and wa painted by Sir Thomas Lawrence also

  2. Good information. Like you my "Blue Boy" seemed to disappear from my home. I was wondering if you knew how many prints of "Pink Lady" there might be and if the prints are worth anything.

    1. I appreciate your comment. I wasn't able to find the number of prints that may be around, but it must be a lot because there seems to be many, many sellers listed on Google. When I Googled what the cost may be, there was a range from $7.60US to $149.99US for a framed print. Thanks for reading my blog.

  3. My grand Parents had Pinkie and red boy hanging in their living room beautiful paintings both my grand parents are long gone but every time I see these paintings I think of them.

  4. Me, too. Thanks for your comment and the great memories.