In my grandparents’ dining room hung a large painting of a young person with long golden curls. It looked like a girl to me, and I was shocked when told it was a portrait of my grandfather. I was the only blonde in the family and felt a sense of ownership of all things blonde—this could have been a picture of me. But no, it was Paul Matteson at 4, in a long white dressing gown, posing among curtains that gave a sense of luxury, along with the thick gold frame. Paul insisted that the artist inscribe the words PAUL BOY in the upper right hand corner. The painting is now at the Rhode Island Art Institute.
Once a visitor to the house asked young Paul who was in the painting. She exclaimed, “What a dear little girl. Who is she?” Paul replied, “That’s my little sister and she’s dead,” ending the conversation.
Paul Matteson, 1888