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Suspense

painting by Charles Burton BarberSome in the art world may say that he traded his artistic soul for profits. But,  I say anyone who can paint like this simply figured out a way to create beautiful paintings that will be loved for generations. How charming is this painting of a little girl and her two pets?

Suspense may not be a picture that is immediately recognizable but it is one certainly worthy of discussion. And, since someone purchased it at a Christie’s auction for $442,500 in 1997; it is one several people must have wanted to include in their collection.

Charles Burton Barber (1845-1894) was an English artist. This painting exemplifies the style of painting he become most well known for – portraits of children with their pets.

In this painting,  completed in 1894, we have a young blue-eyed blond girl in bed saying grace over her breakfast. A chair is positioned next to her bed. Her pet Jack Russell Terrier has found it the perfect perch for staring down the egg and toast on the little girl’s breakfast tray. A tiny tabby kitten sits on the other side of the praying child, partially under the sheets also staring down the food. The kitten and the dog are obviously both hoping to share the meal with their little mistress. Barber captures that moment of anticipation and suspense. Does the little girl share with her pets? Or does she shoo them both off the bed once her prayers are done?

Sure, it Suspense may have been done for the purpose of being turned into commercial prints. But, the level of detailing done by Barber seems to indicate that the artist was not taking any shortcuts. From the fine lace on the little girls nightgown, to the ruffles on the canopy draped over her bed this painting shows the work of a true master. Instead of a plain colored wall, we have wallpaper and even a corner of a picture frame and painting. At the child’s feet lays a small unwrapped box covered with several flowers and laying upon a handwritten note.

OK, can you tell, I really like this painting? It exemplifies the charm of Barber’s work as well as his inherent skill while exuding a charm that is virtually irresistible.

Who Painted Suspense?

Want to see more examples of this artist’s work and learn about who he was, what other artist inspired him and his ties to Queen Victoria? Just visit our Charles Burton Barber biography.

You could invite this little girl and her friends into your own home. One of the vendors on Amazon is offering a canvas print of Suspense in four different sizes. The item shown here is the 12 X 18-inch print. It is also available in 16 x 24, 24 x 36 and 32 x 48 inch sizes.


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