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Portrait of Dudly Foster and His Family

"Portrait of Dudly Foster and His Family" is copyright    2006 by James G. Mundie. All rights reserved.  Reproduction prohibited.

Pen and ink, 9 x 7 inches, 2006

In his pitchcards Dudly Foster is always well dressed and flanked by his parents, Thomas and Elizabeth. One of the earliest photographs of him I have seen has the young Dudley standing on a table, allegedly weighing only 5 pounds at five years of age. In later years, he was often seen sitting in a small chair, also perched on a tabletop. He was often known as “Hop-o'-My-Thumb”, and allegedly never weighed more than 20 pounds, though he did eventually acheive a height of 30 inches.

Dudly was born in Nova Scotia in 1877, the seventh of eight children. His older sisters Catherine and Victoria were also dwarfs who were exhibited as The Fairy Sisters. Both girls died before Dudly was born, but Dudly soon replaced them as the source of the family fortune. Given his tiny stature — and that of his sisters before him, Dudly Foster was likely afflicated with primordial dwarfism. Although there are many potential causes, primordial dwarfs are profoundly delayed in their growth during gestation and consequently appear much smaller and younger than their chronological age.

Dudly Foster worked in the business for nearly two decades, but passed away in 1894 due to heart disease.

The inspiration for this drawing came from Anthony Van Dyck's Family Portrait (1621), in the collection of the Hermitage.

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All Images and Text James G. Mundie 2006 - 2018