Boy Wonders and the truth of their joy

News reports of a football game in late August 2016 between two teams,  one the Spanish Under 14 FC Barcelona and the other the Japanese Omiya Ardija Junior, in which the hard fought game was won by the Spanish, 1-0,  spoke of the extraordinary empathy of the Spanish boys for the crushed Japanese. 

Way beyond a closing handshake. 


Boy wonders.







Which led me to the little boy, Jerold Williams, who escaped his people camping in August 2015.  He died of exposure before he was found in Kaibab National Forest in Colorado.

He was following a grasshopper.


 A photo was published of him: shocking blonde hair long fringe, full smile, earth smudged on his skin just under his right eye. 

A mud-smudged face not unlike Lord Krishna as a boy; with the difference that here is a god and immortal. 



But happier news came yesterday of a 3-year old who, following a puppy, spent 3 days and 3 nights alone in the Siberian wilderness amidst wolves and bears.  He made himself a bed under a larch tree.  And survived to be found. 

A bed under a larch tree and slept!


Boy wonders.






Which brought me to a poem of Dylan Thomas.

It was the poet’s thirtieth birthday in an October when he remembered the happiness of his childhood.  The weather on that day of his 30th birthday

                                                                      ‘turned round.

It turned away from the blithe country

And down the other air and the blue altered sky

Streamed again a wonder of summer

With apples

Pears and red currants

And I saw in the turning so clearly a child’s

Forgotten mornings when he walked with his mother

Through the parables

Of sunlght

And the legends of the green chapels

And the twice told fields of infancy

That his tears burned my cheeks and his heart moved in mine.

These were the woods, the river, and the sea

Where a boy

In the listening

Summertime of the dead whispered the truth of his joy

To the trees and the stones and the fish in the tide.

And the mystery

Sang alive

Still in the water and singing birds…..’


Dylan Thomas, 1914-1953, Welsh poet.  Poem in October




Becalmed, I moved on with the most pleasant meditation on the wonders of the boy wonders. 


 Standing in front of you as if rooted to the ground, deciding whether to defy you or not until the moment that, something grabbing their eye,

they are off so fast wheeling cartwheels so that you begin to wonder if you had imagined their presence a moment before. 



Little boy on the railway platform in Ahmedabad, Gujerat, India, 2010


Until they are back holding a frog by the tail;  and a new round of questions about the mysteries of frogs.  And can they keep the frog as a pet?   Please…..please……






Boy with Frog, 2008, three views, cast stainless steel and acrylic polyurethane; artist’s proof, edition of 1.  Charles Ray, born 1953



Boy wonders.


 Bronze of unknown (to me) provenance.  The late, lamented Corcoran Gallery, Washington, DC, 2014








Il Saltimbanco and detail, 1879, oil on canvas. Antonio Mancini, 1850-1930, Italian.  Philadelphia Museum of Art 






The Crystal Gazer, c. 1930 and detail,  oil on canvas.  N.C. Wyeth, 1882-1945, American.  Brandywine Museum, Pennsylvania





Portrait of a Boy, 1928, oil on canvas.  Chaim Soutine, 1893-1943, Russian.  National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC





Pan of Rohallion, model 1899-1890; gilded bronze.  Frederick William MacMonnies, 1863-1937, American.  National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC






Arcadia, and detail, oil on canvas, c. 1883.  Thomas Eakins,  1844-1916, American.  Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY





 Portrait of Houston Woodward, c. 1910, conte on paper.  Violet Oakley, 1874-1961,  American. Woodmere Museum, Philadelphia






Boy with Toy Soldiers, c. 1976, oil on canvas.  Antonio Mancini, 1852-1930, Italian.  Philadelphia Museum of Art





 Boys Wading, 1873, watercolour and gouache over graphite.  Winslow Homer, 1836-1910, American.  Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY





Indian Jewish boys studying at the Magen Abraham Synagogue, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India, 2008





 A detail of Cupid as a boy:  a detail of Without Ceres and Bacchus, Venus would freeze (love needs food and wine to thrive); 1600-1603;

a drawing of unparalleled skill by Hendrik Goltzius, 1558-1617, German-born Dutch.  Ink made with a burin.  Philadelphia Art Musuem.   

How would Venus not have loved him?





DSC00027 (2)

 Unknown title or date, probably 1960s, painted tissue paper on polished silver steel.  Michelangelo Pistoletto, born 1933, Italian. 







Boy and Dog, 1932, lithograph.  Diego Rivera, 1886-1957, Mexican.  On display in 2016 in the Philadelphia Art Museum’s exhibition:  Painting the Revolution:  Mexican Modernism, 1910-1950 






The unlikely logo of the unlikely-named Milkboy, a restaurant, bar, café and music venue opened by Tommy Joyner at its first location in Philadelphia in 2011  and has now expanded.  4th and South Street, Philadelphia

The logo of the original Milkboy Studio, a music-recording and entertainment business in Philadelphia is below.  It has been in business since 1994.



 Detail of a wall mural painted in south Philadelphia called  Aqui y Alla  designed by Michele Angela Ortiz, executed by young people both from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Chihuahua, Mexico.  Philadelphia Mural Program, 2012.







Head of a Boy, tempera on panel, 1492-’93.  Luca Signorelli, first documented 1470, died 1523, Italy.  Philadelphia Art Museum.

Said to be a hasty execution on a piece of wood and left unfinished.  Made for the artist’s use and hung at his easel using the hole at the top.





Head of Krishna made in preparation for a mural, Jaipur, Rajasthan, 1800

 The head of Lord Krishna as a boy made in preparation for a mural, Jaipur, India; 1800s.  Islamic Galleries, Metropolitan Museum, New York.  The iconography is from the Islamic tradition.

  He who did his mother the favour of wiping her memory clean of the image she saw of our vast circling universes when she pried his mouth open to have him spit out the mud he had been putting in his mouth.






Brian, the Boy with 4 Small Dogs, 1982, colored lithograph;  Margo Humphrey, born 1941, American.  Philadelphia Museum of Art



 A painting of unknown provenance at the entrance to the dining room on the ground floor of the Tabard Inn, Washington DC.






Boy with a Toy Soldier, 1875, oil on canvas.  Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1841-1919, French.  Philadelphia Museum of Art






 The Piano Lesson, 1916, oil on canvas.  Henri Matisse, 1869-1954, French.  Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY

2 thoughts on “Boy Wonders and the truth of their joy

  1. A wondrous collection – poignant, moving, full of variety and detail. Thank you so, so much for this collection

  2. I knew you would understand! So mysterious our species and so extensive our socialization away from the truth of our joy until we find it again in adulthood! With luck!

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