Child-life in Art


The subject of this little book is its best claim upon public favor. Child-life in every form appeals with singular force to the sympathies of all. In palace and in cottage, in the city and in the country, childhood reigns supreme by the divine right of love. No monarch rules more mightily than the infant sovereign in the Kingdom of Home, and none more beneficently. His advent brings a bit of heaven into our midst, and we become more gentle and tender for the sacred influence. Every phase of the growing young life is beautiful and interesting to us. Every new mood awakens in us a sense of awe before unfolding possibilities for good or evil.

The poetry of childhood is full of attractiveness to the artist, and many and varied are the forms in which he interprets it. The Christ-child has been his highest ideal. All that human imagination could conceive of innocence and purity and divine loveliness has been shown forth in the delineation of the Babe of Bethlehem. The influence of such art has made itself felt upon all child pictures. It matters not whether the subject be a prince or a street-waif; the true artist sees in him something which is lovable and winning, and transfers it to his canvas for our lasting pleasure.

Art has produced so many representations of children that it would be a hopeless task to attempt a complete enumeration of them, and the book makes no pretensions to exhaustiveness. The aim has been merely to suggest a convenient outline of classification, and to describe a few characteristic examples in each group. The nature of the undertaking has, of course, necessitated consulting the works of many standard authorities, to whom I gratefully acknowledge my indebtedness. The names of the most prominent are included in the bibliographical list. While faithfully studying their opinions, I have always reserved the right of forming an independent estimate of any painting considered, especially when, as in many cases, I have myself seen the original. I am under great obligations to my friend Professor Anne Eugenia Morgan of Wellesley for first showing me, through her philosophical art-interpretations, the true meaning and value of the works of the masters. From these interpretations I have drawn many of the suggestions which are embodied in the descriptions of the following pages.

While addressing lovers of children primarily, I have also hoped to interest students in the history of art. I have therefore added a few notes containing further details in regard to some of the subjects.

E. M. H.

New Bedford, Mass., June 1, 1894.


Chapter Page
I. Childhood in Ideal Types 3
II. Children Born to the Purple 29
III. The Children of Field and Village 57
IV. The Child-Life of the Streets 87
V. Child-Angels 115
VI. The Christ-Child 141


Sistine Madonna Raphael Frontispiece
The Strawberry Girl Reynolds 7
Penelope Boothby Reynolds 15
Angel Heads Reynolds 19
From the original painting in the National Gallery, London.
Nature Lawrence 23
Portrait of Prince James, Duke of York Van Dyck 33
From a painting in San Luca, Rome, after the Turin portrait by Van Dyck.
Portrait of Princess Mary Stuart and Prince William II. of Orange Van Dyck 39
From the original painting in Amsterdam.
Portrait of the Infanta Maria Theresa Velasquez 45
From the original painting in the Prado, Madrid.
Portrait of the Infanta Marguerite Velasquez 49
From the original painting in the Louvre, Paris.
Rustic Children Gainsborough 59
La Cruche Cassée (The Broken Pitcher) Greuze 71
From the original painting in the Louvre, Paris.
Child’s Head Bouguereau 77
The Little Rabbit Seller Meyer von Bremen 81
Beggar Boys Murillo 89
From the original painting in the Pinacothek, Munich.
Street Arabs Dorothy Tennant Stanley 98
The Meeting Marie Bashkirtseff 103
From the original painting in the Luxembourg, Paris.
Castles in Spain J. G. Brown 107
Group of Angels. From the Assumption Titian 119
From the original painting in the Academy, Venice.
Piping Angel. Detail of Frari Madonna Bellini 127
From the original painting in Venice.
Angel. From Madonna and Child Luigi Vivarini 131
From the original painting in the Church of Redentore, Venice.
Angel. From the Vision of Saint Bernard Filippino Lippi 135
From the original painting in the Badia, Florence.
Madonna of the Casa Tempi Raphael 147
Infant Jesus and Saint John Boucher 155
From the original painting in the Uffizi, Florence.
The Christ-Child Deger 159
Head of Boy Christ Hofmann 163
Detail of Christ Disputing with the Doctors.

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