Hilariously awkward family paintings: let us know them, let us love them, and most importantly, let us always be able to find the humor behind their awful execution. For this round of family portraits, we're doing a serious Throwback Thursday to an era before cameras were invented. Some of the funniest family paintings are the ones that hang on museum walls and we're here to make readers feel better about theirs, by showing them some of the ones that could have used a little editing.
Amusement aside, these historical paintings at the time were very serious works of art that were hung in prestige and with great pride. Now, we can't help but look at them and say, "There's something off about this picture, I just can't put my hand on it but there's something not quite right with this parenting.". They'll evoke laughter, concern, and, well, probably just more laughter. Presenting readers with the bad, the ugly, and the awkwardly placed, these are the funniest family portrait paintings ever captured on canvas. Here's to hoping that everyone's family does better with a camera in hand and doesn't end up looking like internet fuel for those crazy classical meme pages.
15 Who Gave That Kid A Horse?
A rocking horse is such a common gift for a child. But have you ever seen a child so much rocking such an attitude on one? Goodness gracious, this kid looks like he's about to chase down an anarchist rebelling against British parliament.
This painting is titled, "An Elegant Family At Tea", which is totally fitting aside from the kid who's the size of his mother's kneecap. We're not even sure if the cat sitting opposite him is real, because that would mean its legs are skinnier than a needle in a pin-cushion.
The royal nature of this portrait is appreciated though, and with it, the flair of the second child in the room. Front and center, for everyone to see, must be sitting the future king or queen of Britain. Royal proclamations can be difficult when you're at the tender age of four, especially when you're held responsible for handling a teacup twice the size of your hand with no handle. In reality, this kid is probably having a fit over not getting any pancakes -- we would be too if they were offered to the man in waiting and not us. So is this painting elegant? Perhaps not. But entertaining? Definitely.
14 Your Baby Is On The Wrong Way
In 1790 painting was a bit more advanced, which is why facial features were on point but unfortunately, this didn't mean that babies were always facing the canvas. For whatever reason, whether it was the painter's indiscretion as far as angling goes or the mother's decision to shift her baby away from the painter, this baby is just going against the tide. While mom and dad stare at the painter head-on, their baby seems to be making a proclamation across the room -- in the complete opposite direction.
We all understand how difficult it is to get your child to face the camera for a family picture, and this is just the 1790 version of that.
This child wants nothing to do with the painter or being painted. She's not even looking at him, and we've only let out a few claps of approval for the painter simply doing his job and painting exactly what's in front of him. You know what they said in 1790, you get what you pay for and you get painted what you stay for. Apparently in the 1790s they were also used to having babies who looked like they were delivering a sermon from their mother's lap.
13 Give Me The Child, Mother
This is a great family painting! If you're only looking at the mother and her three children, that is. We can only presume that the painter made an effort to make this family painting somewhat candid and expressive, having father run in with open arms to hold one of his children.
In drastic contrast, the father of this painting looks stationary and unenthusiastic while his wife juggles three kids and won't even look at him.
It's a life all parents can relate to, especially after your husband just took a three-hour nap during the same time that you did four loads of laundry, the dishes, cleaned the second-floor bathroom, and took care of all the kids in between. The only child that is giving his or her father the time of day is the baby, sitting there with outstretched arms. Clearly, the mother pictured here is giving her husband the silent treatment and their painter just happened to be the lucky one to capture this pure, raw female emotion. Who knows, maybe this is a painting that the family commissioned to celebrate their divorce. It certainly looks like it. It'd make more sense than paying for this as a representation of a happy family.
12 Please Get Me Out Of Here
Everything seems fine in this portrait except for one thing: Is this kid silently wanting out, or is he always like that? Both of his parents have appeared to make metaphorical as well as literal bookends to his place in this portrait, as each is sandwiching him with a book on either side. The looks on their faces are monetarily nonchalant and carefree, and everything seems great until your gaze slightly lower to his less-than-stellar disposition.
Parents, you know what it's like to have an attitudinal child who can't help but put on their worst face for family portraits. Evidently, that was also the case back in 1796.
This boy could not look further from happy, and our best guess is that his parents had to bribe him with an entire mutton loin for dinner complete with sweet rolls for dessert in order for him to agree to sit for the painting. The good news is that now this family has something to commemorate that moment in their lives for generations to come, the bad news is that they'll always remember the day they promised their child a feast and he still gave it his best Robert Smith frown.
11 That's So Savage
Appropriately named, this portrait is of the Savage family in 1779. Not so appropriately painted, is their family. It's savage, alright. What is with the 1700s and paintings never being correctly proportioned?
All of these faces are lined up so that they're staring back at you with the same pointed, unamused expressions on their faces. Speaking of faces, their heads look like they're about to float clear off of their bodies.
Everything from the neck down is wonderful if you're going for a Polly Pocket-esque statement, but we're still left searching for everyone's legs and feet. We're thinking they may be the tiny shiny dots that are barely juxtapositioned against the checkerboard floor, but who really knows. It's lovely that all of their children are in descending-height order, though. It really makes believable that at different ages, their heads are all the same exact size and shape. Their heads are even the same exact size as their parents, and we're caught asking ourselves the question: Is that a nod to their parents being big-headed, or a nod to their children being air-headed? We'll never know. Who knows, maybe the Savage family really looked like this. Maybe it was the height of fashion!
10 The Far-Off Gaze
This portrait is a wonderful representation of family life in the late 1700s aside from, you know, the disinterested looking man who's about to drop a baby right off of his lap. We've all been there, whether it's lack of sleep, too much food resulting in a massive food baby, or simply just general exhaustion from the night before. However, not all of us have the chance to get our baby-sliding skills captured in real time.
We're not quite sure if buddy the babysitter here is distracted by another lady far outside the reach of the painter's view or just had a thought to invent running water but either way, it's concerning.
What's even worse is the look on the poor child's face as she reaches up (to no avail) in an effort to counteract gravity. Her only hope is the wind resistance of her dress, and even that's a longshot. This will set the tone for the rest of her life as one sister can't be bothered, while the other is preoccupied with smooshing faces. Never fear, though -- We're pretty sure the guy in the back is just biding his time until he can step in.
9 The Lost "Shining" Triplets
Whoa, Nelly. If we didn't know any better we'd think the set of The Shining was missing a few kids, and we're pretty sure they ended up in this portrait. Instinctively, your eye goes first to the adults with the Amadeus hair and shiny dresses but alas, the terror is real. Triplets adorned in green await your eager eye, as well as to haunt your dreams. The only reason this is funny is because no one really seems to know what's going on or that their children are about to be etched into a nightmare for life. There are plenty of adults, but if you took them out of the picture, these girls would be even creepier. It begs questions: Who are these tiny humans? Where did they come from? Are they even related, or were they just walking by and decided to stand awkwardly in front, all wearing the same nonchalant expression?
The fact that these children look four times their age is beside the point, these ageless mini adults look like babies that were graced with the body of a woman twice their senior.
Is this even real life? Who thought that these looked like children?
8 The Toast Is Good
We'd be lying if we said we couldn't look at this and laugh. The painting is done extraordinarily well and painted with the utmost artistic talent, but who's idea was it to make toast such a main theme? If you haven't yet spotted it that's probably because it's right in the foreground of the portrait. The little girl to the front right is engaging in what looks like a delightfully delish piece of buttered bread, and it's hilarious that she simply can't be bothered by her parents or sister. We totally understand; what good is tea with a huge piece of buttered french bread? In the early 1700s, not much, apparently. To be quite honest, it's not even clear if that is indeed what she's eating, but it's enough to distract the viewer from the blank expressions and oddly-sized teacups. It's somewhat common knowledge that teacups didn't always have handles, the ignorance in that is not lost on us.
Unfortunately, this portrait went very quickly from a wonderful family tea time to "all the different ways to hold a tiny teacup". This is all a lot to take in, in addition to the perfect family dog who, in reality, would only be about six inches long and six inches tall according to these painting specs.
We don't know about you, but given there's no food anywhere else in this picture, the hanger would have taken over before we knew it...Move aside, tiny child.
7 Alright, Kids, Time To Feed The Goats!
Just kidding about the family portrait part, this painting is really here because of how majestic those goats are. We're not even sure what's going on in the rest of the painting because we're so enamored with the glory of the goats in front of us.
Which is highly relatable in today's day and age with all of the goat-love on social media, so we really can't blame this family for wanting their precious four-legged friends right there with them. This makes sense in a world where a parent has the same face as their baby -- literally, the exact same face. We're unsure what the goal of this portrait was with half of the family looking away and not caring, while the other half is seemingly staring at the painter head-on. Which brings us to the most important question, goats and twinning face aside: Who is that man way in the back of everyone? For now, we can only assume it's Galileo...It's the beard that gave it away. And who is that lady looking out her window in the background? Either they know her but the family didn't consider her important enough to include in the main portrait, or she's a stranger, which is even weirder.
6 It Must Be A Doppelganger
No, that's not a double you're looking at. This portrait is completely different from the previous tea-obsessed picture and it has us convinced doppelgangers reigned supreme in 1720.
The awkwardness is almost too much to bear between the empty expression and again, what's with these teacups made for mice with no handles? The only thing made more awkward is how this man is holding his teacup.
Either his dexterity is incredible and beyond what human beings know today, or these cups really are roughly an inch in size and not nearly big enough for tea time or any time, really. Unless, of course, the trick was to take a shot of tea? Perhaps make it unbelievably strong and just chug it, because one ounce was all you needed to keep you going throughout the day? Either way, it doesn't make sense. We applaud this young girl who's minding her own business, just sipping away at her tea, completely oblivious to how wrong it is that her teacup is nearly the size of her face. If only she had a piece of toast and maybe she'd be a tad happier? She looks like she's so done with the dude who's presumably her dad. Hopefully she's not the one who has to do all those dishes.
5 Hold On, The Horse Is Hungry
"Hold on portrait artist, I have to feed my horse first." There's a whole lot going on in this picture and we're not quite sure where to start. Obviously, this horse is a bit out of place. Where you would think a horse normally belongs, in the barn, he is not. He even seems a bit tentative taking food as if he's not used to the kindness of just being fed through an open window, but from the looks of it, that door was made specifically with him in mind. Then you have the oldest daughter reaching out to...feed the horse?
Apparently being a solid three feet away from the door doesn't stop her from believing this horse can extend its neck like the slinky from Toy Story.
Their son is busy digging into his dinner as most kids would be, completely oblivious to the petting zoo feeding time going on behind him, similar to his brother who can't be bothered. Granny is in the corner man-handling what appears to be a serrano ham which, okay, we can't really blame her for -- That stuff is delish. Keep looking, however, and you'll see him. The man in the shadows, or should we say, father? Either way, he's officially found the creepiest place in the entire picture. As a whole, it's a hilarious old-age depiction of modern life on the farm.
4 Height Is Irrelevant
It's hard to believe with a seven-foot man you'd get two-foot tall kids, but there you have it. We didn't even see the towering figured clothed in brown until we'd stared at this picture for a good long while, and even then we couldn't make sense of it. Judging by the height these ladies are while sitting, chances are they're just as tall which makes for some awkward conversations with their children unless they're sitting on the floor. Luckily we've only got what appears to be twins here unless they're not really twins and are just meant to be told apart by their dress colors. In which case that's not really helpful either unless you remember which dress you were wearing for that fifteen-hour painting.
We're not really sure what's on their heads, assumedly a bonnet of some kind, because why would you want to be able to tell your children apart?
The toddler to the left is busy reaching out to someone, possibly because the woman next to her is about to spill a table full of tea everywhere. There's a lot going on here and we're not really sure if it's a family tea time or an average day.
3 Someone Give This Kid Attention
It's hard to suppress a giggle with this one. Resting turtle face is real, ladies and gents, and this portrait is proof that it began as early as the 18th century. If we weren't mistaken, we'd think that the guy to the left with the massive hair is an 18th-century depiction of Nick Miller from New Girl. Can you blame him, though? It's quite obvious that the plant is being offered is only a sub-par fern. The women to the right of him don't look too pleased either, sitting with their sub-par tea and frowny faces.
Everyone in this picture looks so miserable, in fact, that we almost forgot there's a child right in the center of the picture. Perhaps, by far the funniest thing about this portrait, is the look on her face. It seems to say, "are you kidding me" in the most 18th-century way possible.
The closest modern-day expression we can relate it to is the meme of the dog in the burning room say, "this is fine." The real question is what's more distracting to her parents, the fern or the bad tea? Also, why make the decision to include in your family portrait the back of some kid offering a disappointing fern to the family?
2 We're Over Here, George Washington
We had to include this portrait because simply put, it's the modern-day retelling of a man being distracted by football. While Washington is in cohorts with Marquis de Lafayette, his family is doing their own thing while his child haphazardly lays her head on someone's lap. This flair of drama just echoes the call for it being the typical male distraction, which we all know too well.
Washington may as well be at a barbecue right now, leaving his wife and child in the hands of the homeowner who talks to them out of pity.
While his child impatiently looks on, Washington seems to continue at a normal pace like it's any other day. This just goes to show you that men have not changed, even in during the early stages of America they were still distracted and unenthused with social engagements. Unless, of course, Marquis happened to mention football... In which case who can blame the founding first president? It seems strange to want to immortalize a moment of disinterest in your own family into a painting, but apparently things were different in the days of the founding fathers and it was totally cool to pay a painter to show the world how little you talk to your family.
1 Are You Sitting On That Baby?
What's more distracting, this mother's giant headpiece or the fact that her dress is severely overlapping the child sitting next to her? This is a lovely depiction of the Samels family in 1788, but we're quite sure that a smaller dress could have been swapped out to avoid covering up half of one of their children. Understandably, big dresses were on the trend that year, but this poor child has both of her hands reaching around her mother, most likely in an effort to avoid swimming in a sea of taffeta.
Realistically she needs the entire couch to hold her array of dressy material and it's somewhat amusing that three out of four children have been relegated to either side of the room because of it.
Her husband seems to be somewhere else and not paying any attention whatsoever and we can't blame him for not being able to see past shades of cream and ivory. It appears that her daughters have been relegated to the same dress fate, sporting their own shades of white. We can't help but applaud her son for getting away with no more than a massive collar, even if his dad does look like Michael Keeton in Beetlejuice.