Childhood, Family, and Modern Identity in French Art
Imprint: Yale University Press
Images of children and families abound in the works of the French Impressionists, from Claude Monet’s portraits of his young sons to Mary Cassatt’s endearing images of mother and child. In Impressionist Children, Greg M. Thomas offers new perspectives on some of the most famous paintings in art history, explaining how they reflect the dominant social, cultural, and political aspects of Parisian middle-class life in the late 1800s.
Drawing on letters, children’s books, tourist guidebooks, and 19th-century texts on child development, parenting, and education, Thomas skillfully demonstrates how childhood became a crucial theme for its embodiment of adult ideas about childhood, the family, sexuality, work and leisure, national culture, and, above all, the formation and reproduction of bourgeois identity. He discusses paintings, prints, drawings, and sculptures by Impressionist artists and investigates the influence of popular visual culture—fashion, toys, studio photography, and illustrations in books, magazines, and park guides—on the Impressionists’ conceptualization of childhood and family relations.