Paul Hoecker will perhaps be best known to readers of this blog for his portrait of Nino, the lover of Baron Adlesward-Fersen on Capri (bottom). But a friend of Front Free Endpaper has recently sent images of this beautiful and delicate portrait (above). Hoecker was, according to Wikipedia, no stranger to controversy and risque paintings: he had to flee to Italy after it was claimed he used a male prostitute as a model for a painting of the Blessed Virgin. It is unsurprising perhaps then that this little painting has a secret. Hang it as above during the day, but when you are entertaining of an evening among friends of understanding, turn it around and you have a rather more overt image (below) painted on the verso. My friend who sent the pictures and I would be keen to know if anyone can fill out any details of the story about the B.V.M. portrait. If you are able, please either comment on this post or email me using the link a the top right of the blog.