A dark-skinned boy sits with one leg crossed over the other as he looks off to the right. He is dressed in a blue coat, red jacket and white shirt. He has a pair of sturdy shoes on his feet and puttees on his lower legs. His shepherd boy’s attire is typical of the Campania region, which also matches the work’s earlier title Neapolitan Boy
. We do not know if Petkovšek painted the boy on one of his study tours to northern Italy (where migrants from the south still arrive today) or if he actually visited the regions south of Rome. The picture might also be Petkovšek's rendition of a work by another painter. Regardless, this is one of the painter’s better quality works, and the unfinished painting reveals none of the technical shortcomings that frequently pervade Petkovšek’s canvases. The small size and the simplicity of the subject, painted in dark shades, undoubtedly contribute to the successful result.
Petkovšek spent the years 1884 and 1885 in Paris and then returned home, where he continued to paint sporadically. Over time, as he gradually succumbed to mental illness, he destroyed or painted over the majority of his works. He belonged to the golden generation of Slovene realist painters: he, Ferdo Vesel and Ivana Kobilca were all born in 1861, while Anton Ažbe was born a year later. This painting was rescued from Petkovšek’s studio by Matej Sternen, who in 1922 sold it to the National Gallery.