Walter Benjamin writes:
There is a childhood photograph of Kafka, a supremely touching portrayal of his “poor, brief childhood.” It was probably made in one of those nineteenth-century studios whose draperies and palm trees, tapestries and easels, placed them somewhere between a torture chamber and a throne room. At the age of about six the boy is presented in a sort of greenhouse setting, wearing a tight, heavily lace-trimmed, almost embarrassing child’s suit. Palm branches loom in the background. And as if to make these upholstered tropics still more sultry and sticky, the subject holds in his left hand an oversized, wide-brimmed hat of the type worn by Spaniards. Immensely sad eyes dominate the landscape arranged for them, and the auricle of a large ear seems to be listening for its sounds (Walter Benjamin, “Franz Kafka”, trans, Harry Zohn, in Selected Writings Volume Two (Part Two) (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, p 800).