Paintings, Prints and Drawings

Brief description

A domestic interior with a mother and child seated at a piano, oil on canvas, possibly by Charles West Cope, c.1860, in a gilt frame with moulded decoration and a circular aperture.


Domestic interior with a mother and child seated at a piano
The First Piano Lesson

Object name

oil painting

Object number


Production person

Charles West Cope (artist)

Production date

c.1860 (painted)

Production place

England (painted)


Victorian (1837-1901)


oil paint



Physical description

Oil painting is in an elaborate gilded wood and composition frame with a ciruclar aperture.

Content description

The painting, which is in the form of a roundel depicts a woman with a baby on her lap seated in front of an upright piano. The woman is wearing a blue/green dress and has a black ribbon in her hair, which trails down her back. She is turned away from the viewer towards the piano but her face can be seen in profile as she turns to the right to look at the baby seated on her knee. The baby also faces away from the viewer and is dressed in a cream dress with red and white chequered bow around the waist. The woman has her right arm around the childs waist and is holding a rattle in her left hand. There is a wooden horse and carriage toy on top of a large book on the right hand side of the piano and music sheets on the stand. A wall covered with a red floral wallpaper and the edge of a door can be seen in the background.

Content object

sheet music


Height: 34.1cm
Width: 34.5cm
Height: 54.2cm
Width: 54.2cm
Diameter: 33cm

Website keywords

wall treatments
music and music making
images of rooms
child rearing


Label text for the digital interactive located in the Reading Room (September 2015- June 2017):

Domestic interior with a mother and child seated at a piano
Attributed to Charles West Cope
Oil on canvas, about 1860

Charles West Cope specialised in painting domestic scenes like this one of a mother and her child in an idealised view of motherhood steeped in Victorian values of middle-class domesticity.

The child is the focus of the mother’s attention, being entertained with toys and allowed to sit at the piano. Pianos were becoming less expensive at this time, but were still indicative of a certain wealth and status.

Rights note

Painting is out of copyright.
The photograph is in copyright to the Museum of the Home
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