The location of the sketches made by the artist in March1977 at the London mortuary where his mother’s body was taken was not known until this painting was re-framed for exhibition in 2009. They are affixed to the rear of the wood panel on which the oil painting was made three days after her death. The sketches, about four or five inches on a side, were made on yellowing paper from a sketchpad.
At the mortuary, Lenkiewcz found his mother Alice’s body wrapped in a shroud, her jaw secured with a bandage wrapped around her head, which he drew from three different points of view. On opening the shroud, he discovered that her toes had been tied together with string. Lenkiewicz later painted this scene in a notebook inscribed on the spine Self- Portrait/Death Bed. Begun in 1977, shortly after his mother’s death in March of that year, the notebook contains studies and notes relating to the oil painting The Dead Painter Surrounded by his Children and Companions, which formed part of the Self-Portrait Project shown in 1978. In that painting, Lenkiewicz portrayed himself in the same guise as his mother’s corpse, jaw secured by a bandage and toes fastened together.