Monday, April 14, 2014

Painting of the Day: Sickness and Health by Thomas Webster, 1843

Sickness and Health
Thomas Webster
The Victoria & Albert Museum

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This tender painting by Thomas Webster shows the early Victorian passion for peaceful family scenes. Young girls dance to the music of a hurdy gurdy while they are watched by other generations of the same family, one of whom is a young lady who is clearly infirm and watching with sadness. It’s a simple subject of real family life which a critic said was, “treated with infinite grace and pathos.”

When exhibited at the Royal Academy, Thomas Webster asked that a quotation from Wordsworth's poem “The Three Cottage Girls” should be placed next to it. It read, “The cheerfulness of innocence survives to mitigate distress.”

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