The idea that a picture suddenly falling off the wall betokens a death - especially if it is a portrait - has been current since at least the late 17th century, and is still not obsolete. The belief is quite understandable if one accepts that sudden unexplained happenings can be literally ominous and the fact that a portrait can symbolically represent the real person. In some circles, it was regarded as unlucky to hang pictures over a door or a bed. The first mention of this belief is in Igglesden (c.1932: 234) who reports it as a superstition of the *theatre.
   See also *'Crying Boy painting.
   ■ Opie and Tatem, 1989: 304-5.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

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