By a pleasant coincidence the year 1768 brought to Reynolds's studio for portrait sittings two young people who began an acquaintance at this time which had a romantic ending. They were Miss Catherine Horneck and Henry William Bunbury, who were married a few years later, and were the parents of the little boy in our picture.

Miss Horneck was one of two pretty sisters who, upon their father's death, had become wards of Sir Joshua, the family being old Devonshire acquaintances of his. They were now living in London with their mother, and were great pets in society. Goldsmith, who knew them well, playfully named Miss Catherine "Little Comedy" from the resemblance between her face and that of the allegorical figure of Comedy in one of Reynolds's portraits of Garrick.

Mr. Bunbury was a gentleman of family and fortune, who had unusual artistic talent. His special forte was in humorous subjects and caricatures, and his works were sought and praised by connoisseurs.

Reynolds must have followed with affectionate interest the lives of these young friends whose attachment had been fostered in his studio. He always felt a fatherly regard for Mrs. Bunbury and a generous admiration for her husband's artistic work. Their elder son, the boy of our picture, was born in 1772, and was named Charles John. The painter visiting his friends saw the child grow out of baby-hood and become a sturdy boy. He was a beautiful child, with large eyes set wide apart in his round face. His expression was delightfully frank and honest. When he was nine years old the portrait was painted which is reproduced in our illustration.

The boy sits under a tree in a pleasant landscape looking intently before him at some object. Though he seems to have been carefully dressed for some special occasion he has been enjoying himself in boy fashion in spite of that. His ringletted hair is blown about by the wind, and the coat is unbuttoned at the throat, as he drops down to rest, hot and panting from some vigorous exercise.

His chubby hands rest on his knees, and his eyes are fixed on something directly in front of him. He does not seem to be a boy given to day-dreaming, and he is much too active to sit still a long time. It must be something very interesting which awakens his curiosity. Perhaps a bumble-bee, buzzing in and out the bell-shaped blossoms of some sweet wild flower, catches his eye, and he almost holds his breath and watches it.


The boy's dress looks very quaint to our modern eyes. The trousers and waistcoat are made "in one piece," and the velvet coat, with its wide skirt, seems a garment made for a middle-aged man. As we have already seen, the children of this time dressed as miniature copies of their elders. But while fashions in dress have changed, the child's nature is about the same in every country and period. The eighteenth-century boy, in spite of his grown-up clothes, was fond of all sorts of out-of-door games. Master Bunbury could doubtless match a boy of his age to-day at marbles, tops, kites, battledore, and hop-scotch, and teach him besides many now-forgotten sports, as "bally-cally," "chucks," "sinks," and the like.

The modern American schoolboy, studying the history of our own country, may be interested to know that this portrait of an English boy, who was a subject of George III., was painted five years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. One of the signers had a son who was of nearly the same age as Master Bunbury, a boy named William Henry Harrison, who afterwards became the president of our republic. If we possessed a portrait of Harrison at the age of nine, it would be interesting to compare the two boyish contemporaries of the old and the new country. Master Bunbury, as the son of an English aristocrat, must needs have regarded our colonists as troublesome rebels, while on his part young Harrison looked upon the English as tyrants.

Bunbury finally entered the English army and became a general officer. He was sent to the Cape of Good Hope while the British were holding possession there in behalf of the Dutch, and there he died in the fullness of his early manhood in 1798.

The portrait of Master Bunbury was painted a few years after that of Miss Bowles, and Reynolds here repeated the same arrangement which had been so successful before. It differs only in that the entire figure of Master Bunbury is not seen, being cut off in what is called three quarters length, just below the knees. In both pictures the lines of the composition follow the same pyramidal form, and in both also the park-like surroundings extend into an indefinite distance, so that the eye may follow with pleasure the long vista. Both pictures suggest the same idea of a child pausing in play to look directly out of the canvas at some distant object. Yet the painter has shown a perfect understanding of the difference in the temperament of the two children, the girl, graceful, quick, mischievous, the boy, sturdy, rather serious, and with a mind eager for information.

The portrait of Master Bunbury was evidently painted by Reynolds for his own pleasure, and retained by him during his lifetime, after which it passed by bequest to the boy's mother.