Oil on canvas
The Carità Romana (Roman Charity) formula derives from Roman mythology and relates the story of a devoted daughter, Pero, visiting her incarcerated father, Cimon, and breastfeeding him to prevent starvation – an exemplary tale of filial duty and charity. In Peter Paul Rubens’ c.1612 treatment of the theme, Pero is dressed in a white blouse and red skirt, a colour combination of which Lenkiewicz made frequent use in other paintings for Project 18.
A new model, Benedikte Esbenson, brought back powerful early memories of her ‘double’, Lenkiewicz’s first adolescent love at the Hotel Shemtov, the Hampstead home for Jewish émigrés run by his parents. Research in his library into the fictional and folkloric tradition of the ‘Doppelgänger’ or ‘double’ convinced the artist that he had hit upon a powerful new theme. Lenkiewicz relished the painterly opportunities of using the traditional formula of an uncanny double of oneself glimpsed in such a way that it could not be a mirror reflection.
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