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Josephus Laurentius Dyckmans, The Blind Beggar

Key facts
Full title The Blind Beggar
Artist Josephus Laurentius Dyckmans
Artist dates 1811 - 1888
Date made 1853
Medium and support Oil on mahogany
Dimensions 50.3 × 46.5 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated and inscribed
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Miss J. Clarke, 1859
Inventory number NG600
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
The Blind Beggar
Josephus Laurentius Dyckmans

An old man leans against the wall of a church, tilting his head towards the light shining down on the scene. A little girl leans towards him, her hand outstretched as if begging. The pair are shabby but spotlessly clean. Their skin glows in the light; the man’s beard, painted strand by strand with a brush with a single hair, is combed and meticulous.

This painting, perhaps a little sentimental to modern eyes, was intended for the nineteenth-century middle-class home, where charity towards the poor was encouraged – though donations were only for people thought of as ‘the deserving poor’. Those considered rogues – shown drunk, thieving or simply dirty, in pamphlets put out by organisations concerned with the morals of the poor – need not apply for charity. It would be withheld (doubtless with a strong sense of self-justification).

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