Monday, January 09, 2012

Portraits and poverty

Frans Hals Gypsy woman
Research into portraits for my ongoing collaboration with Jane Fordham resonated strongly this morning when I was reading 'The Art of the Portrait' by Norbert Schneider. In a section on the 17th century painter Frans Hals' and his work, The Governors of the Old Men's Almshouse at Haarlem, Schneider notes:

'...the ruling strata began to view persons who were suffering hardship, or who were socially marginalised, as lazy and unwilling to work. The upper classes, whose economic interests, based on the principle of wealth accumulation, had led to the widening of the gulf between rich and poor in the first place, thus tended to see the resultant misery as deriving from a congenital ignobility of character in members of the lower classes....'

As I am reading, Radio 4 is reporting record sales of Rolls Royce cars, Aston Martins and Jaguars in the UK while another news item is suggesting the poor are having larger families in order to obtain more benefits.

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