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'The Dead Mouse' is typical of Boilly’s sentimental approach in the 1780s and 1790s, and demonstrates his fine technique reminiscent of the then fashionable Dutch seventeenth-century Fijnschilders (cf. Dou and Willem van Mieris (qq.v.)). The picture relates to another work by the artist, called L’optique, which was shown at the Salon of 1793, and the mother and little boy recur in other works of the period by the artist. The chair appears to have been a studio prop, as similar chairs are listed in the posthumous inventory of Boilly’s first wife, and the same piece of furniture can be seen in 'The Sorrows of Love' (Boilly P479). Boilly became a favourite artist of the 4th Marquess of Hertford, who later in his collecting career seems to have been particularly attracted to his early sentimental and amorous genre scenes.

The Wallace Collection





oil on canvas


H 40 x W 31.2 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

acquired by Richard Seymour-Conway, 4th Marquess of Hertford, 1861; bequeathed to the nation by Lady Wallace, 1897

Work type



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The Wallace Collection

Hertford House, Manchester Square, London, Greater London W1U 3BN England

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