Picture on doors originally concealing a Catholic altar
The scene, which is Genoese (city with mountains in background), was probably painted by "il Bergamasco" (G. B. Castello). At the recent Dickens conference that took place in Genoa, some of those attending speculated that, as Dickens lay half-awake in his bed opposite, facing the altar cupboard, Mary Hogarth's spirit, looking like a Raphael madonna in a blue cloak, emanated from it! Thus, although the painting is hardly a masterwork, it marks an extremely important point in Dickens's emotional development. The speculation about the cupboard's being the "source" of the spirit was fed by recollections of the conversation which the ghost of Mary has about the Catholic Church and arch-Protestant Charles (the spirit advises Dickens that, for him, the Catholic religion is best).
Photograph and text by Philip V. Allingham.
[This image may be used without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose.]