With the command, “suffer the little children to come unto me”, Christ insisted to his unwilling disciples that his ministry extended even to the very young. This painting was commissioned by the Liverpool School for the Blind in 1837 as a companion to a work by William Hilton (1786-1839), 'Christ Restoring Sight to the Blind'(also in the Walker’s collection). Both paintings hung in the chapel of the school, and together they summed up the purpose and mission of the institution. Haydon was the leading British exponent of ‘high art’ in the manner of the great Italian artists of the Renaissance, and many of his paintings were styled on the grand canvases of Titian (about 1487-1576) and Veronese (about 1528-88). Conscious that few contemporaries shared his idealistic artistic beliefs and aspirations, Haydon eventually committed suicide in a fit of depression.


  • Title: Christ Blessing the Little Children
  • Creator: Benjamin Robert Haydon
  • Creator Lifespan: 1786/1846
  • Creator Nationality: British
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Death Place: London, England
  • Creator Birth Place: Plymouth, Devon, England
  • Date Created: 1837
  • tag / style: Benjamin Robert Haydon; High Art; children; Christ; blind
  • Physical Dimensions: w3250 x h2890 cm (Without frame)
  • Artist biographical information: Benjamin Robert Haydon was labouring under a severe handicap for a painter. Today he would be diagnosed as partially sighted but he himself used to joke that he was ‘the first blind man who ever successfully painted pictures.’ Haydon was known to have been hugely ambitious: nothing less than the salvation of High Art in England through state patronage and the advancement of public taste would satisfy him. In 1846, when it became clear to him that state patronage had finally passed him by and that the English public was more interested in seeing P T Barnum's latest novelty attraction, 'General Tom Thumb', than his own exhibition of High Art, Haydon sadly committed suicide.
  • Additional artwork information: This painting was the subject of an ‘Artwork Highlight’ talk at the Walker Art Gallery in 2005. To read the notes from this talk please follow this link: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/picture-of-month/displaypicture.asp?venue=2&id=251
  • Type: Oil on canvas
  • Rights: Purchased in 1986

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