Young America

Childhood in 19th-Century Art and Culture

Claire Perry

View Inside Price: $75.00


February 11, 2006
248 pages, 8 1/2 x 11
64 b/w + 104 color illus.
ISBN: 9780300106206
Cloth

Published in association with the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts, Stanford University

A delightful look at how nineteenth-century American artists portrayed children and childhood

In an era of both optimism and anxiety about the nation’s future, Americans in the nineteenth century focused attention on the cultivation and education of children as future citizens. Contemporary portrayals of children—in fine paintings, popular prints, illustrated primers, and advertisements—helped to shape cultural expectations: pictures of hardy country boys, intent schoolchildren, and little girls practicing embroidery were examples of the ways model Americans should look and behave. At the same time, images showing street urchins, young slaves, or children at work in factories reflected troubling conflicts in society.


This appealing book explores representations of children in relation to the currents of American culture, including urbanization, immigration, separate spheres of the genders, and the nation’s professed devotion to egalitarianism. A generous selection of illustrations includes well-loved works by such artists as Winslow Homer and Eastman Johnson, as well as fascinating archival images. With engaging depictions of children from varied economic, racial, and geographic backgrounds, Young America opens a new window on the life and culture of the United States during a century of vast change and growth.

Claire Perry is curator of American art at the Cantor Center for Visual Arts, Stanford University.

"This appealing book explores representations of children in relation to the currents of American culture, including urbanization, immigration, separate spheres of the genders, and the nation's professed devotion to egalitarianism. . . . With engaging depictions of children from varied economic, racial, and geographic backgrounds, Young America opens a new window on the life and culture of the United States during a century of vast change and growth."—New England Antiques Journal

"Expands on the themes of the exhibition and presents new research on the social and economic significance of childhood in Nineteenth Century America."—Antiques and the Arts Online

"Carefully researched and well-documented. . . . A fine compendium of 19th-century American childhood, Young America is a noteworthy contribution to American history, enriched through its pictures, many taken from major museum collections and others from lesser-known sources or held in private collections."—Maine Antique Digest

"Perry has a knack for summarizing the contemporary historical debates surrounding her subjects, while also doing close readings of the artwork, and she writes in a way that is accessible to almost any audience. The beautiful art reproductions in the text also make it visually appealing."—Emily Honey, Kritikon Litterarum
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