I stopped dead in my tracks when I stumbled across this image today. Elizabeth! What are you doing to that toddler!? But it's not her, of course - it's some other gorgeous, wilful creature just like her, painted by the German-American Confederate artist Nicola Marschall (1829-1917).
Marschall is primarily known now for designing the Confederate flag and the grey uniforms of the Confederate army. In his lifetime he was a prolific painter of religious themes, landscapes and portraits. Despite the importance of many names on his list of subjects, I find the paintings themselves to be a particular sort of 19th century sentimental that I never much liked. Except for this one. Yes, we have the dramatic red drapery and the unsurprising decorative urn of flowers (yawn), but the vitality and life of the two youngsters blows all that meaningless window dressing away. This painting is called "Young Girl with Cat," thought to be from 1867, and I'd love to know how and why this pair broke through Marschall's usual polite staging.