Two Puerto Rican Boys depicts a pair of kids looking up at the painter while sharing a chair in a way that compelled the youth in the back to lean over his companion’s shoulder. Neel captured the gaze of each boy with conviction. The comparison a viewer is likely to make between the two—their faces are practically in parallel to one another—tends to multiply the wonderful individuality of each.
In “Two Puerto Rican Boys,” their personalities jump off the canvas. They’re tough even while they’re achingly tender. They were so anxious to be painted, they came and asked Neel if she’d do their portrait. And she did.