No sources so far are quite sure when Russian academician/society painter Vladimir Borovikovsky (1757-1825) created this "Portrait of Two Children with a Lamb." The page on Wikimedia Commons says "1800s?" Based on the flowing simplicity of their dresses, I think that's right. Don't you love their faces? These look like completely real children. Though they are well dressed, their snubby noses and big, heavy-lidded eyes could belong to any number of cuties I've met over the years. Their lamb seems to like them just fine, too - see, it's resting its head so lightly on the one girl's hand. Look at her other hand. She can't resist digging her fingers into that curly fleece, though probably she was asked to pet it with a flat palm. I understand. Every time I go to the state fair I can never keep my mitts off the sheep either.
This piece could hardly be anything but staged, yet Borovikovsky managed a natural, relaxed feel to the portrait. It makes me happy this morning. I hope it does the same for you.