The above photograph is of a painting by James Collinson (1825-1881) a distinguished English painter. The original painting was most likely completed around the year 1866. Unfortunately, it has been lost but an excellent photograph of it exists, bearing the inscription: “Painted and photographed by James Collinson.”


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This second painting by James Collinson was also lost but was found some years ago in Carlisle, England. It shows a hospitality scene in 1869 at the Home of the Little Sisters of the Poor at 296a Portobello Road, London. The scene depicts the ‘little family’ in a spirit of sharing and joy. The details are numerous. One lady is holding a garment, which has obviously come in from the collecting.


Through the window on the left is the old wagon so familiar to Londoners of the 1860’s. The Sisters have just returned from their collecting rounds and one of them is kneeling showing the ‘treasure’, which she has brought back.


A crucifix dominates the scene and beneath it is a statue of Our Lady. On the left there is a statue of St Joseph whose help was and continues to be called upon so often.


The picture itself tells us the date and place of the painting. On the right, one of the Sisters, almost certainly Sister Emmanuel (Caroline Sheppard), the first English Little Sister of the Poor, is reading a letter to a blind lady. The envelope of this letter has fallen to the floor and on it the name of the addressee – Mrs Hayes – and the address of ‘Bayswater, former district of Portobello Road’ can easily be read. This name was found in the first of entries of the elderly people in our house at Portobello Road. Fortunately, the book has been preserved.