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Ammi Phillips’s portrait records the distinct personality of his sitter, Frederick A. Gale, captured here in a fleeting childhood moment. Works from this early period of Phillips’s career share a striking luminescence, seen here in the radiant greens and reds of the boy’s clothing set boldly against a muted gray background. 

Phillips, whose prolific career as a portraitist took him up and down the Hudson River Valley and into the Berkshires, reinvented his practice to reflect his own artistic evolution and keep pace with developments in printmaking and photography. By the end of his lifetime, the artist had adopted the dramatic dark backgrounds more typical of photographic images and academic painting, leaving behind the unusual pastel hues of his earlier works.  

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