Portraits

Portraits - Body

Look Closely

Portrait of a Black man in an orange tie dye shirt and jean shorts against a blue background with orange poppies in a black frame.

Kehinde Wiley (American), A Portrait of a Young Gentleman, 2021, oil on linen. © Kehinde Wiley. Collection of The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, and commissioned through Roberts Projects, Los Angeles. | Gift of Anne F. Rothenberg, Terry Perucca and Annette Serrurier, the Philip and Muriel Berman Foundation, Laura and Carlton Seaver, Kent Belden and Dr. Louis Re, and Faye and Robert Davidson.

Portrait of a young boy in a blue costume with a natural landscape in a gold frame.

Thomas Gainsborough (British), The Blue Boy (originally titled A Portrait of a Young Gentleman), ca. 1770, oil on canvas. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.

A teal and lime green vertical bar on the left that says “Time to sort!” with a light green and light purple venn diagram in the middle where one circle says “A Portrait of a Young Gentleman,” one says “The Blue Boy,” and the middle says “Both.”

Review the terms that describe both images. Which facts go in the same area of the diagram? Which facts go in each different area of the diagram?

  • Kehinde Wiley
  • 1770
  • American artist
  • Hat
  • Gold frame
  • Black frame
  • Satin and lace
  • A Portrait of a Young Gentleman
  • Thomas Gainsborough
  • The Huntington's Collection
  • Costume
  • White figure
  • Nature background
  • 2021
  • Portrait
  • Poppies
  • British artist
  • Everyday clothes
  • Painting
  • Black figure
  • Hand on hip

A teal and lime green vertical bar on the left that says “Answers” with a light green and light purple venn diagram in the middle where one circle says “A Portrait of a Young Gentleman,” one says “The Blue Boy,” and the middle says “Both” and the answers listed in each.

Answers

A Portrait of a Young Gentleman

  • Kehinde Wiley
  • American artist
  • Black frame
  • Everyday clothes
  • Poppies
  • 2021
  • Black figure

Both

  • Portrait
  • Nature background
  • The Huntington's collection
  • A Portrait of a Young Gentleman
  • Hat
  • Painting
  • Hand on hip

The Blue Boy

  • 1770
  • Gold frame
  • Costume
  • British artist
  • Thomas Gainsborough
  • White figure
  • Satin and lace

Learn about the portraits

Portrait of a Black man in an orange tie dye shirt and jean shorts against a blue background with orange poppies in a black frame.

  • Kehinde Wiley grew up visiting The Huntington and seeing portraits like Thomas Gainsboroughʼs The Blue Boy. This is his version of that painting.
  • In Wileyʼs painting, a man wears everyday street clothes instead of a fancy costume, like the boy in Gainsboroughʼs. The man modeled for this painting in Wileyʼs studio in Senegal, Dakar.
  • Wiley re-imagines classical works of art by painting Black and brown models in the same poses as historical works that featured white figures. Do you like how he re-imagined The Blue Boy? Why or why not?
  • The colorful background shows orange poppies against a blue-purple background.
  • The designs for his backgrounds are similar to West African fabrics and textile designs by William Morris and Company.
  • Zoom in to view this painting.
Portrait of a young boy in a blue costume with a natural landscape in a gold frame.

  • The original title of The Blue Boy was A Portrait of a Young Gentleman. Because of the boyʼs bright blue costume, this painting was nicknamed The Blue Boy.
  • This painting is an example of a Grand Manner portrait, which is an 18th-century portrait style that includes a full-length figure, in costume, located in an outdoor setting.
  • To create this blue costume, artist Thomas Gainsborough used many different blues, including indigo, lapis, cobalt, slate, and turquoise.
  • Does this costume look casual or fancy? Where do you think this boy would have worn this costume?
  • Zoom in to view this portrait.

Questions

  • What did you notice about object 1, A Portrait of a Young Gentleman?
  • What did you notice about object 2, The Blue Boy?
  • How are they the same?
  • How are they different?
  • What did you learn?
  • Which portrait did you like best? Why?

Activity

Strike a Pose

Materials: paper and pencil

Time: 10 minutes

Steps:

  1. In both portraits, the young gentlemen stand in a similar pose. Move your body to pose like these figures by:
    • Standing tall, placing your left foot out in front, and bending your knee just a little bit.
    • Placing your left hand on your hip.
    • Hanging your right arm straight down and pretending to hold some kind of hat.
  2. Hold this pose! Great job! Then stop posing and shake it out. How did it feel to pose in this way? Did you feel confident? Powerful? Uneasy? Unnatural? You can write how you felt on your piece of paper or share as a group.
  3. If you were going to pose for your own portrait, how would you stand? You can write it down, or strike a pose and show the class!

We would love to see your work!

Please take a picture of your Venn diagram. Then post it on social media and tag The Huntington! #LearnAtTheH