As the Tate writes, Thomas Benjamin Kennington “was well known for his compelling pictures of the urban poor.”
Kennington painted Homeless in 1890.
He takes a bit of a risk in composing such a deliberately moving scene—he expects to buy with a captured moment what Dickens, for example, purchases with whole chapters of exposition—but to me, Kennington just manages to pull it off.
You might take the woman in black to be the child’s mother, but her mourning clothes are too elegant, her hair too presentable.
She is, for all we can tell, a perfect stranger, who has dropped her bundle of laundry and herself to the wet pavement in order to lift this boy from the pavement—his hat remaining where his head lay moments before.
His weak but arresting gaze is the only sign of life left in him.