"Baby Louie Discovers There Really Is Something Awful in the

Closet that will Carry him off  if he doesn't Eat all his Green Peas."

Rumbrand

This painting is the subject of considerable debate among Depressionist scholars, as it is unlike Rumbrand's traditional themes. One hypothesis is that it represents a work from his DTs Period. Other schools of thought suspect it's a recreation of an infantile nightmare because of the subject matter, ie, the absence of a definitive background and the ambiguous rendering of the bird/closet monster figure. 

Others agree about the infantile nightmare hypothesis, but suggest that the urine stream indicates overly severe punishment for nighttime incontinence. The Freudians say the bird represents a domineering, possibly abusive father.* Because of the absence of a signature one can also reasonably assert this may be a copy of a now-lost Rumbrand by an apprentice in his atelier.

Newer evidence reveals that this could be an illustration for a series of moralizing illustrated children's books along the lines of Hillaire Belloc's Cautionary Tales for Children, which included such nightmare-inducing stories as "Jim, who ran away from his nurse, and was eaten by a lion" and "Matilda, who told lies and was burnt to death." See also Edward Gorey's The Gashleycrumb Tinies for a similar theme.
--------------------------------------------
References:
*Die Ausgewhompen die Kinder auf Chastzsement Korporal Sigmund Freud, Jr  Brandenburg Asylum Publications (Berlin, 1959)
Children and How to Keep them Intimidated, Agatha Hannigan (Miss) Borstal Books (Gravesend, 1921)

 

BACK          NEXT