Robert Henri’s oil on canvas painting, “Dutch Joe,” also known as “The Laughing Boy (Jopie van Slouten),” is a portrait of a young Dutch boy with a vibrant smile. Painted in 1910, the artwork is housed at the Milwaukee Art Museum and is part of Henri’s collection of portraits of Dutch youths.
Henri was strongly influenced by Frans Hals’ lively brushwork and portrait style, which is evident in this artwork. The Ashcan School movement, to which Henri belongs, focuses on portraying everyday life and people in their natural surroundings. This painting showcases Henri’s mastery in capturing the essence of his subject; the boy’s innocence and joy shine through vividly.
Dutch Joe’s natural expression reveals how comfortable he was with Henri during his sitting. The title “The Laughing Boy” signifies this joyfulness that radiates from the boy’s face. It is evident that he has been captured in a moment of pure happiness, leaving viewers wondering what joke or story may have made him laugh so easily.
In conclusion, “Dutch Joe” paints the picture of youthful exuberance with its brightly colored background and expressive subject matter. This painting portrays an appreciation for childhood while shedding light on everyday life during its time period—an excellent example of Ashcan School artistry at its finest.