THE BEAUTY OF BIG

Around 1715 a German immigrant artist named Justus Kuhn painted one of the young sons of the Maryland oligarchy, Henry Darnall III: a 10-year-old baroque doll, gazed at by an adoring slave boy in a silver collar. The balustrade behind him and the formal gardens and pavilions behind that are complete fictions. No properties in America looked like this. Kuhn was meeting the illusory desire of Colonial gentry to seem like important extensions of European culture. It would be a recurrent fantasy. Fifty years later, in Boston, one sees John Singleton Copley doing much the same in some of his portraits....

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