May. 20th, 2017

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 In 1772, Charles Willson Peale's daughter Margaret died of smallpox.  He painted a memorial portrait of her corpse lying on a pillow, prepared for burial.   In 1776 Peale expanded the portrait, adding his wife, Rachel, weeping over the baby.   The revised portrait was called "Mrs. Peale lamenting the death of her child", or alternatively "Rachel Weeping", an allusion to Matthew 2:18: "In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not."   

From the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which now owns the work:

 In 1782 Peale advertised Mrs. Peale Lamenting the Death of Her Child as a feature of his new painting room but sequestered it behind a curtain with the warning: "Before you draw this curtain Consider whether you will afflict a Mother or Father who has lost a Child."

 
 
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(from Demorest's Family Magazine, Volume 15, c/o Google Books)

A ROMANTIC LIFE.—The romantic vicissitudes of the early life of the Countess Solange De Kramer have once more become the talk of the Paris salons, and they are, indeed, so extraordinary that, used as materials for a novel, they would spoil the book by their lack of verisimilitude. One night in 1801, a little girl about one year old, was deposited in the drawer of the foundling hospital at Brest. She was dressed with much finery, and a note attached to her skirt told that her name was Solange, and that she would be reclaimed by her father. The claim was never made, however, and in due time the child was transferred to the orphan asylum to be educated there.

As she grew up she developed a most extraordinary beauty; but her intellect appeared to be very weak, and she suffered from frequent nervous fits. When she was twelve years old she was sent out into the streets to sell flowers, and her beauty and modesty attracted many people's good will; but she grew weaker and weaker and at last she died. According to French custom she was buried in an open casket, and, as it was Winter and the soil was frozen, she was laid into the grave, only covered with a thin layer of sand. During the night she awoke, and, pushing the sand away, she crept out from this grave. Not exactly understanding what had taken place, she was not so very much frightened; but in crossing the glens between the cemetery and the fortifications, she was suddenly stopped by the outcry “Qui vive,” and as she did not answer the sentinel fired, and she fell to the ground. Brought into the guard house her wound was found to be very slight, and she soon recovered ; but her singular history and also her great beauty had made so deep an impression on a young lieutenant of the garrison (Kramer) that he determined to be her protector, and sent her to one of the most fashionable educational establishments in Paris.

During the next ten years Kramer was much tossed about by the war; but when, in 1818, he returned to Paris, he found Solange a full-grown woman, not only beautiful, but accomplished and spirited, with no more trace of intellectual He married her, and for several years the couple lived happily in Paris. Meanwhile, investigations were made concerning the girl left in 1801 in the Foundling Hospital at Brest, and as these investigations were made by the Swedish ambassador, and in a somewhat official manner, they attracted some attention. Captain Kramer heard about the affair, wrote to the ambassador, and a month later the ambassador himself came in state to bring Mme. Kramer a formal acknowledgment from her father, the former General Bernadotte, afterwards King Charles XIV of Sweden. Captain Kramer and his wife went immediately to Stockholm, they were ennobled, etc., and their son has just now been appointed attaché to the Swedish legation in Paris.

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