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This portrait shows Rothenstein’s three children, John, Betty and Rachel, posed in fancy dress as characters from the Aladdin story in The Arabian Nights. They are enacting the scene where Aladdin, disguised as a wealthy man, marries the princess Badroulbadour. Badr, meaning ‘full moon’, was the standard image for a beautiful girl in Arabic literature. Interestingly, Rothenstein adapted a drawing of his son for the pose of the princess on the left.

On the wall is a Renaissance painting of the birth of the Virgin, belonging to the artist. He may have introduced it to suggest an earlier stage of child development.

September 2004