Dead Son’s Portrait

Person who buys unwanted painting at estate auction inherits entire estate?


Years ago, there was a very wealthy man who, with his devoted young son, shared a passion for art collecting. Together they traveled around the world, adding only the finest art treasures to their collection. Priceless works by Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet and many others adorned the walls of the family estate.

Man walking on forest track in morning light


The widowed elder man looked on with satisfaction as his only child became an experienced art collector. The son’s trained eye and sharp business mind caused his father to beam with pride as they dealt with art collectors around the world. As winter approached, war engulfed the nation, and the young man left to serve his country.


After only a few short weeks, his father received a telegram. His beloved son was missing in action. The art collector anxiously awaited more news, fearing he would never see his son again. Within days, his fears were confirmed, the young man had died while carrying a fellow soldier to a medic

Distraught and lonely, the old man continued his life with anguish and sadness. The joy of art collecting, that he and his son had so enjoyed, would no longer be the same.
One winter morning a knock on the door awakened the depressed, old man. As he walked to the door, the masterpieces of art on the walls only reminded him that his son was not coming home. As he opened the door, he was greeted by a soldier with a large package in his hands. He introduced himself to the man by saying, “I was a friend of your son. I was the one he was rescuing when he died. May I come in for a few moments? I have something to show you.”


As the two began to talk, the soldier told of how the man’s son had told everyone of his, not to mention his father’s, love of fine art. “I am an artist,” said the soldier, “and I want to give you this.”

As the old man unwrapped the package, the paper gave way to reveal a portrait of the man’s son. Though the world would never consider it the work of a genius, the painting featured the young man’s face in striking detail. Overcome with emotion, the man thanked the soldier, promising to hang the picture above the fireplace. A few hours later, after the soldier had departed, the old man set about his task. True to his word, the painting went above the fireplace, pushing aside thousands of dollars’ worth of art. His task completed, the old man sat in his chair and spent the rest of the day gazing at the gift he had been given.

During the days and weeks that followed, the man realized that even though his son was no longer with him, the boy’s life would live on because of those he had touched. Over time, he learned that his son had rescued dozens of wounded soldiers before a bullet stilled his caring heart.


As the stories of his son’s gallantry continued to reach him, fatherly pride and satisfaction began to ease his grief. The painting of his son soon became the most prized possession, far eclipsing any interest in the pieces for which museums around the world clamored. He told his neighbors it was the greatest gift he had ever received.


The following spring, the old man became ill and passed away. The art world was in anticipation that with the collector’s passing, and his only son dead, those paintings would be sold at auction.

According to the will of the old man, all of the art works would be auctioned off on the anniversary of the day he had received the greatest gift, the picture of his son.

The day soon arrived and art collectors from around the world gathered to bid on some of the world’s most spectacular paintings. Dreams would be fulfilled this day; greatness would be achieved as many would claim, ‘I have the greatest collection.’


The auction began with a painting that was not on any museum’s list. It was the painting of the man’s son. The auctioneer asked for an opening bid but the room was silent. “Who will open the bidding with $100?” he asked. Minutes passed, and no one spoke. From the back of the room came a voice, “Who cares about that painting? It’s just a picture of his son.” “Let’s forget about it and move on to the good stuff,’ more voices echoed in agreement.


‘No, we have to sell this one first,” replied the auctioneer. “Now, who will take the son?’ Finally, a neighbor of the old man spoke. ‘Will you take ten dollars for the painting? That’s all I have. I knew the boy, so I’d like to have it.” ‘I have ten dollars. Will anyone go higher?” called the auctioneer. After more silence, the auctioneer said, ‘Going once, going twice, gone.” The gavel fell.

Cheers filled the room and someone exclaimed, ‘Now we can get on with it and bid on the real treasures!” The auctioneer looked at the audience and announced that the auction was over. Stunned disbelief quieted the room. Someone spoke up and asked, ‘What do you mean, it’s over? We didn’t come here for a picture of some old guy’s son. What about all of these paintings? There are millions of dollars’ worth of art here! I demand that you explain what is going on!”

The auctioneer replied, “It’s very simple. According to the will of the father, whoever takes the son… gets it all.”

Kind of puts things into perspective, doesn’t it? Just as those art collectors discovered on that day, the message is still the same: The love of the Father, whose greatest joy came from his Son, who went away and gave his life rescuing others. And because of that Father’s love . . . whoever takes the Son gets it all.”

The lesson learned from this story, brings forth a lot of truth for us to consider. Those who came, intended to bid on what they considered to be the finest works of art in the world, but the father knew what was his greatest treasure was, the painting of his valiant and unselfish son. The message that was delivered by the auctioneer that day still rings true today, “According to the will of the father, whoever takes The Son… gets it all.”

Sadly, just like those who attended the auction of the art collection, we tend to care only about the big, expensive pieces. We should be like the gardener.This year’s Christmas is marked by travails and distress because of COVID-19. We should not despair about this because nothing can stop the coming of Christmas.

Resources:

The Story of Painting “The Son”

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