J.G. Brown began his highly successful career as a genre painter about 1860, and within a few years found his niche specializing in painting children. Depictions of children were especially popular after the Civil War as the pubic regarded them as symbols of the country’s lost innocence as well as the nation’s future hope.
Created during this climate of nostalgia, The Berry Boy envisions a carefree country boy radiating health and energy. The artist and George Walter Vincent Smith were living in New York City at the same time when Brown was just beginning his career. By 1867, Smith had purchased four paintings by Brown and by the time of his last purchase in 1922, Smith owned 15 paintings. Smith probably purchased The Berry Boy directly from the artist in 1891.