The Blind Beggar

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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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.

The National Gallery, London



The Blind Beggar




Oil on mahogany


H 50.3 x W 46.5 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Bequeathed by Miss J. Clarke, 1859

Work type



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The National Gallery, London

Trafalgar Square, London, Greater London WC2N 5DN England

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