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State Library of NSW
Child in carrying cloakc 1850
This portrait of an unnamed baby is highly unusual and goes against 19th century portraiture convention by showing such a young infant unaccompanied by other family members. Painted portraits of babies wearing such elaborate ‘carrying cloaks’ are also rare in colonial portraiture.
Before prams came into use in the late 1800s, mothers needed to carry their babies when leaving the house. Richly ornamented coats like this ermine-trimmed velvet example were worn by upper class babies.
The stiff pose of this infant could be due to a less skilled artist; or the work may, in fact, be a memorial portrait painted from a photograph after the child had died.