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Name That Object

You all have been so good at helping me identify one thing or another over the years, so here’s another request. What is that object immediately to the right of the white-haired man’s head? If you don’t know, then tell me what it reminds you of, or even better how you would describe it if you were, say, given this an assignment in a creative writing class.

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OK, Professor. You asked for it.

This rather awkward portrait contains an example of the most common of all errors of photographic composition, which is that an object in the background appears to be growing out of the side of the old geezer's head. It might be an extension of the chair's back. Or it might be some African artifact. Looks to me like the face of one of those racist grinning jockeys rich people used to put on their front lawns. A circular black-face, grinning wildly, with thick mahogany discs protruding from its sides, like giant ears. Funny, but the thing isn't at first noticable. But then it becomes quite distracting. Now, a skilled photographer making a shot of someone eventually learns to notice such distractions, and he or she would move the camera to avoid it. But in this instance the portrait painter had put it in deliberately. Why on earth would he or she do such a ridiculous thing?

Re: OK, Professor. You asked for it.

Thanks! It's more than I expected, a lot to chew on.

It's an old fashioned harp.

Appropriate for an old-fashioned guy.

I've seen a lot of stylized harps like that in museums.

can i get a link? it looks nothing like a harp to me

Looks like a monkey perched on the chair behind him.

a black face / racist statue of some sort.

That's the first thing that came to mind when I first noticed it!

It looks like a monkey with a bird perched on either side of him.

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