In the present picture, the figure is close to the viewer, placed to the right. Wearing a large tam o'shanter and white blouse, he half looks out of the picture, as if he is observing something, or lost in reflection. His figure is in shadow, but strips of sunlight touch the top of his beret, the edges of his shirt, and his right hand. The tone of the picture is mainly subdued, but Osborne makes subtle use of browns, blues, violets, whites and ochres. In contrast, the dazzling white of the sea, suggesting a low sun above, is dramatic. This white is repeated in the strip of light on the front of the boy’s shirt, and in the wave breaking on the shore. The off-white of the clouds floating in the pale bluish-pink sky is more muted.
Osborne makes striking use of horizontal lines: in the horizon on the sea, the top and bottom of the boardwalk, and in the beach below. There is a delightful visual pun in the way that the tuft on the boy’s tam-o-shanter is reprised by the sail on the horizon.
Osborne paints in a bold manner, the light and shadow on the beach expressed by long strokes, while the boy’s hat and shirt are conveyed in a ‘square-brush’ style.
1C. Kennedy, ‘Seated Boy and Sea. Walter Frederick Osborne’, in America’s Eye, 1996, p.120.
2 Sotheby’s, London, 7 May 2008, lot 116
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