1919 Oil on canvas
Sekine Shoji, born into a poor craftsman’s family, taught himself painting while working at a printing company and doing odd jobs. He debuted in the art world at a mere sixteen and was given only four years to work as an artist before dying of tuberculosis at the age of twenty years and two months. He was always short of painting supplies, and many of his works were lost to the earthquake and the war. Today, only thirty of his oil paintings survive. Boy is his last extant work before his death. The subject is thought to be his youngest brother, Takeo, then six. In the boy’s eyes, gazing into the distance, we sense the artist’s longing for life as death neared.