While the majority of Gaul’s career was devoted to western and wartime subjects, his genre and figure paintings from the 1870s and early 1880s seem to show the influence of John George Brown, who was celebrated for his depictions of sweet-faced little girls and shoe-shine boys at leisure. Girl with Flowers was likely done during this period and reflects a common theme among genre painters in post-Civil War America, when the sentimental/nostalgic portraits of children by Brown and another famous genre painter, Winslow Homer, denote a return to the innocence once lost during the tumultuous war years. While the expression of Gaul’s young subject is tinged with sadness, the bright-colored roses in the foreground, captured in full bloom under gleaming light, convey a sense of hope and promise.
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The painting retains its original frame.
Wedding gift to the current owner’s parents, 1938
By descent to private collection, Fryeburg, Maine