Oil painting on canvas depicting the figure of a seated lady holding a kneeling child wearing a blue sash presumably indicative of a young boy. On her right, the allegorical figure is bearing in the left hand a cabbage rose, a symbol as an ambassador of love and in the right, a convolvulus, a symbol of a bond.
English mid 19th century, circa 1835 - 1855
Height 57” (145cm) Width 50” (127cm)
As was customary in well-to-do families, little boys up to the age of three were clothed in dresses with a blue ribbon to denote gender. Demure and sophisticated, the mother’s face shows little emotion although she protectively holds the child with her left hand, her wedding band very evident. The cherubic character to the right of the picture is invariably allegorical and representing a person missing from the family group. Depicted in classical dress and with a rather grown up face, it appears to represent an adult rather than a child. The lack of effect it has on the woman or child, along with the symbolism of the flowers, suggests it represents an absent husband. Traditionally, the cabbage rose is used in art as an ambassador of love. However, the rose, as fully grown can also imply the death of someone in his or her prime. The morning glory or convolvulus demonstrates a bond, longing and perpetuity, the flower opening towards the sun each morning as it rises. Egyptian funereal paintings used convolvulus as a symbolism of rebirth following the passage from life to the hereafter. A painting of this size and grandeur would have been commissioned by a family of notable wealth and standing.