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Playing Soldiers

George Henry Story

American Art

By the time this work was painted, painful memories of the Civil War had receded enough in the national consciousness that George Henry Story, who specialized in genre scenes of children, could make battle the focus of child’s play. “Fighting” under the banner of the American flag, the three smiling youngsters embody the patriotic pride and optimism surrounding America’s celebration of its 1876 Centennial. Story originally painted an intact sword hanging from the middle child’s belt, then changed it to a broken one (a fragment appears on the floor)—an alteration probably made to emphasize the fact that this mock conflict is waged with harmless toy weapons.
MEDIUM Oil on board
DATES 1877
DIMENSIONS 23 11/16 x 16 7/16 in. (60.1 x 41.8 cm) FRAMED: 36 x 28 11/16 x 4 in.
CREDIT LINE Dick S. Ramsay Fund and Designated Purchase Fund
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
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