When my mother-in-law died last spring, her children put her house up for the sale and divided the contents. John asked me if there was anything in particular I coveted, but in truth there wasn’t. Nonetheless, we ended up with about a hundred sherry glasses and sorbet dishes, which will come in handy next time we throw a sherry and sorbet party. The one thing I actually did kind of like and want was this:
It’s actually from John’s father’s side of the family, brought over by his grandmother when she emigrated from Czechoslovakia in 1962. They call it “The Little Ancestor”, but no one knows who it is, or was. It appears to be quite ancient, but again, no one knows if it’s a hundred years old, or two or even three hundred. My knowledge of Austro-Hungarian portrait art is sketchy at best. In fact, I couldn’t even tell you if this is a good painting or a dreadful one. He’s a weird looking little dude, that’s for sure. Like an effeminate Prince Joffrey. There’s some serious wrist angling there, and I think he’s carrying a make-up bag. The kids think he’s creepy, and deny any family resemblance.
He’s also in terrible shape, and I’m not talking about the apparent lack of genitalia. The paint is seriously cracked, or crazed, as is the term, and he has a hole in his knee. I imagine it will cost a fait amount to get him cleaned, restored, and possibly reframed. Is he worth it? Hard to say. No harm in trying to find out. He might turn out to be the Habsburg Justin Bieber.