French Paintings of Childhood and Adolescence, 1848–1886: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

French Paintings of Childhood and Adolescence, 1848–1886

1st Edition

By Anna Green


342 pages

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The premise of Anna Green's timely and original book, is that nineteenth-century representations of childhood and adolescence-in paintings, but also in other forms of visual culture and in diverse written discourses of the period-are critical for understanding modernity. Whilst such well-worn signifiers for modernity as the city, the dandy and the prostitute have been well mined, childhood and adolescence have not. Paintings of the young produced in France from 1848 to 1886, Green contends, inform not only our understanding of modern life but also our perception of modernist or avant-garde painting. Figuring largely are Manet and the Impressionists, as well as a gamut of more traditional painters of children who are crucial in providing context for the avant garde. Because modernity is an essentially urban phenomenon, Green's focus is primarily on the city, usually Parisian, child. The painted youth of her study are organized initially by class and gender. Then the chapters are structured according to themes (parent-child relations, modes of discipline, work, education, and play, the spectacle, sexuality) that straddle the congruences among the book's triple trajectory: the young, their modernist representations, and the experience of modernity. Green's interdisciplinary approach ensures that this book will be of interest not only to art historians but to all those concerned with the cultural and social history of childhood.


'Green deals systematically with the emerging categories of childhood and youth, examined according to variables of gender and class. Never content with easy cultural and art historical clichés, she shows throughout a refreshing penchant for turning the tables and complicating expected revisionist readings. Her intelligent, original, and well-written and researched book makes an extremely important contribution to our field.' Norma Broude, American University

'Starting with the bold and convincingly argued thesis that childhood was as critical a sign of modernity as other better known tropes, Anna Green moves skillfully between images and texts. Her book is conceptually sophisticated and deeply researched, both in terms of contemporary theoretical writings and historical material'. Susan Sidlauskas, Rutgers University, USA

’… [a] rigorous, provocative study… Throughout French Paintings of Childhood and Adolescence, Green clearly demonstrates that although later nineteenth-century Paris has been heavily mapped and minutely charted by art historians, the city and the period have had their areas of scholarly neglect. While adding to the interpretations of works by familiar painters such as Manet and Renoir, she also brings forward the works of countless lesser-knowns. In doing so, she avoids an art history that cleaves artists into modernist or reactionary figures, and the breadth of her approach is such that the boundaries between the two groups often lose clear-cut demarcation. In some cases, works by canonical modernists prove to have their reactionary elements, while images by dust-bin� reactionaries prove to be informed by modernist attitudes. This is yet one more aspect of Green’s study that makes it such a valuable read.’ Caa.Reviews

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Manet's Music in the Tuileries Gardens: childhood - modernity - Paris; Working children, dangerous children; Spectacular girls: young Parisiennes of the streets and stage; 'Good little girls': 'eternal immaturity'; 'To make men of her sons': constructs of masculinity; Boys will be boys: childhood, sex, and adolescence; 'Inside the dark continent': hysterical pleasures; Conclusion: 'the child is father of the man'; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Anna Green is Lecturer in Art History at the University of East Anglia, and at Department of Art History, Norwich University College of the Arts, UK

About the Series

Studies in Childhood, 1700 to the Present

Studies in Childhood, 1700 to the Present

This series recognizes and supports innovative work on the child and on literature for children and adolescents that informs teaching and engages with current and emerging debates in the field. Proposals are welcome for interdisciplinary and comparative studies by humanities scholars working in a variety of fields, including literature; book history, periodicals history, and print culture and the sociology of texts; theater, film, musicology, and performance studies; history, including the history of education; gender studies; art history and visual culture; cultural studies; and religion.

Topics might include, among other possibilities, how concepts and representations of the child have changed in response to adult concerns; postcolonial and transnational perspectives; "domestic imperialism" and the acculturation of the young within and across class and ethnic lines; the commercialization of childhood and children's bodies; views of young people as consumers and/or originators of culture; the child and religious discourse; children's and adolescents' self-representations; and adults' recollections of childhood.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / History / General
ART / European
ART / Techniques / Painting