I've been collecting written descriptions of works of art that appear in middle grade novels (fairly frequently, as least in the sorts of middle grade novels I like). I'll post them here every now and then; bonus points if you know the source of the one below (leave a comment!).
As you read, ask yourself:
- Would you recognize this work of art from the author's description?
- What do you think it looks like?
Over the fireplace hung a large oil painting of a family, three children and two ladies. There were two handsome boys, wearing lace collars and dark green silk suits. They had long hair but looked anything but girlish. The elder of the two, who might be fourteen years old, was wearing a sword, and it looked so natural to him that [he] was filled with hero-worship. He had his hand on the collar of a tame deer. The younger brother had a book under his arm and a flute in his hand. The little girl had a smile of irrepressible high spirits that seemed to defy the painter to do a serious portrait of her. she was holding a chaffinch, and beside her on the ground was an open wicker cage. One of the two ladies was young and beautiful. At her feet was a little curly white dog with a black face; on her arms was a basket of roses. The other lady was old and dressed in black. They all had large dark eyes and all their eyes seemed fixed on [him]. If he moved to one side all the eyes moved after him.
[Me again] One more question: If you were an artist (or a child; regretfully, I am neither), how would you recreate this work of art? Imagine a whole series inspired by fictional works of art! Someone should get on that.
Meanwhile, I'll unveil the title and author next week. Hint: It's a timeslip.
[For comparison to the written description and to each other: Joshua Johnson, The Westwood Children, c.1807 (top) and Johann Zoffany, The Lavie Children, c.1770; NGA. Does one or the other of these match your image of the painting described? Mine is closer to The Westwood Children.]