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The Blind Beggar
Josephus Laurentius Dyckmans
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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).

Key facts
Artist Josephus Laurentius Dyckmans
Artist dates 1811 - 1888
Full title The Blind Beggar
Date made 1853
Medium and support Oil on mahogany
Dimensions 50.3 x 46.5 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated and inscribed
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Miss J. Clarke, 1859
Inventory number NG600
Location in Gallery Gallery A: Paintings after 1600
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