Victorian Child Art: The Concept, Its Emergence and Its Effects

The concept of ‘childhood’ developed during the Victorian era. Before 1937, children were perceived differently. In most of the artwork of that time children were depicted as tiny adults.victorian child art

They were typically shown as mature individuals wearing adult clothes and doing activities that grownups do.

After the new concept, children started to be conceived as innocents, particularly among the wealthy. This change was evident and started to be clearly shown in the artwork of that time. A big number of books were published during the Victorian era, supporting this new concept of childhood. There was a huge rise in the toy industry as well as the new toys were made by keeping in mind the innocence of children.

This wasn’t all. The childhood concept was also depicted through paintings and other art forms in the Victorian era by various artists. However, if we talk about the literature that supported the new childhood concept, we could not dismiss the discussion about J.M. Barrie, Beatrix Potter and A.A. Milne. These three writers were the conceivers of Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh and other noteworthy books that are still read by countless children all over the world.

My First Sermon, by Millais, is one of the paintings that depict the childhood concept really well. The oil painting shows a young girl on a church pew, listening to the sermon for the very first time. Her clothes indicatejohn_everett_millais_53_my_first_sermon that she comes from a prosperous family, showing the elements of innocence that are exactly what the childhood concept is about. Another important painting from the Victorian era is No Walk Today by Sophie Anderson. The painting shows similar aspects of childhood and was one of the most talked about painting of its time.

If the Victorian era didn’t notice the fault in the childhood concept of that time, there wouldn’t be paintings like My First Sermon or No Walk Today that depict the true picture of childhood which is all about purity and naiveness. Whenever we study the Victorian era, we keep getting amazed what significance it brought to the world of art.

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