Caught Napping (Boys Caught Napping in a Field)
Along with landscape paintings, "narrative" pictures—which offered a readable story—became immensely popular in the pre-Civil War era, as Americans began to fashion more images of themselves. William Sidney Mount, one of the leading painters of such works, completed this scene of lazy boys for the New Yorker George Washington Strong, for whom it represented a childhood memory. The theme of country boyhood subsequently became one of the most popular subjects for American narrative painters after the Civil War, when urban centers increasingly drew people away from their native rural environments. Unlike those later versions, which tended to be sentimentally sweet, Mount portrayed these boys as mischievous, with due punishment approaching in the form of their father. Mount's insertion of the goat's skull on the tree also signaled the considerable risks incurred by the neglect of their duties.
- Artist: William Sidney Mount, American, 1807-1868
- Medium: Oil on canvas
- Dates: 1848
- Dimensions: 29 1/16 x 36 1/8 in. (73.8 x 91.7 cm) (show scale)
- Signature: Signed lower left: "Wm. S. MONNT [sic] / 1848"
- Collections:American Art
- Museum Location: This item is on view in American Identities: A New Look, Everyday Life/A Nation Divided, 5th Floor
- Accession Number: 39.608
- Credit Line: Dick S. Ramsay Fund
- Rights Statement: No known copyright restrictions
- Caption: William Sidney Mount (American, 1807-1868). Caught Napping (Boys Caught Napping in a Field), 1848. Oil on canvas, 29 1/16 x 36 1/8 in. (73.8 x 91.7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Dick S. Ramsay Fund, 39.608
- Record Completeness: Best (83%)