Genius of Mirth

Artist: Thomas Crawford (American, New York 1813?–1857 London)

Date: 1842; carved 1843

Medium: Marble

Dimensions: 47 x 20 x 24 in. (119.4 x 50.8 x 61 cm)

Classification: Sculpture

Credit Line: Bequest of Annette W. W. Hicks-Lord, 1896

Accession Number: 97.13.1


During a visit to Crawford’s Rome studio in 1842, the New Yorker Henry Hicks gave him an order for a sculpture, leaving the theme to the artist’s choosing. Crawford’s selection of a lighthearted youth was likely to please his patron, as images of children were especially popular in the mid-nineteenth century. He described his subject as “a boy of seven or eight years, dancing in great glee, and tinkling a pair of cymbals, the music of which seems to amuse him exceedingly.” The sculptor and his contemporaries relished the technical challenges of carving marble; the disengaged raised left leg epitomizes the virtuosity they delighted in displaying.