French: Artist Unknown
Mid Nineteenth Century Boy, Appearing Ill,
Lying on What is Likely His Deathbed
2 1/2 inches diameter (sight)
The subject matter of this portrait seems macabre and distasteful to twenty-first century sentiments; but the boy's parents, who likely had no other image to remember their son by, must have been desperate to preserve his likeness. Such deathbed portraits (painted both pre and post mortem) were considered tender mementos in the nineteenth century; and, in an age before photography, they were often the only surviving image one had of a loved one.