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* * * * * This chapter has outlined various developments that occurred in the visual representation of maternity in the mid decades of the eighteenth century. Whilst historians have increasingly moved towards models of continuity and variety, the more traditional pattern of change as suggested by Aries and Stone is echoed in the portraiture of the period. From the 1740s onwards, the relationship between mothers and children began to receive increasing attention from artists. Viewpoints became more intimate and brought the spectator into closer proximity with the subjects as the sitters themselves began to demonstrate increased physical and psychological closeness. Portraitists inscribed their sitters within pictorial lexicons derived from Renaissance traditions of portraying the Madonna and Child, not only reflecting well upon the sitter but also upon themselves, demonstrating their artistic credentials and capacity to rival the ancients.
A Poetical Epistle to Sir Joshua Reynolds, Knt. and President of the Royal Academy (London, ) J7 1777), introduction It is once again the flattering nature of portraiture that indicates the primary stimulus for these developments. Whilst the actual practices of childbearing and childrearing may well have been homogeneously heterogeneous, there were clear developments within prescriptive and fictional writings. And, whether these were ignored, adopted wholesale or treated in a partial and selective fashion in reality, their uniformity and moral authority dictated approbation and praise as due to their adherents. Whilst motherhood had always been a central role and its virtuous fulfilment important in defining the exemplary woman, eighteenth-century writers created new, fashionable and popular notions of maternity. The exemplar became increasingly asexual, secularised, idealised and sentimentalised as cloying eulogies to maternal instinct and affection became common. The literature in itself became more popular, more widespread and more accessible, helping to disseminate such notions.
However, not only was the mother a key figure in her own right, the mainstay of affection, harmony and tranquillity at the heart of the household, but she also came to be hailed as the primary teacher of her children. Thus, her virtues or vices had serious implications for society as a whole.
Female virtue and the ideal woman's capacity to fulfil domestic, familial and household tasks were polarised with idle, luxurious and vain concerns. The prescriptive and fictional writers' antipathy towards personal adornment, fashionable dress and the beauties of the body and face, towards the woman as an aesthetic object, had serious implications for portraiture. Representing the external attributes of an individual and placing those attributes on display for all and sundry to witness, stare at and scrutinise in the Royal Academy exhibitions conflicted with dominant ideas.
However, artists such as Reynolds formulated mediating devices. The privacy and intimacy of his portraits suggested female sitters to be fulfilling correct, private roles and to be seemingly ignorant of their audience. The pseudo-science of physiognomy permitted the face represented on canvas to be perceived as expressing inner virtues, rendered explicit in acts of love and attention towards children. Generalised dress further removed the sitter from accusations of show and display. Women were thus universalised into icons of motherhood, into subject paintings that were designed to express the virtues of the sitter, the sensibility of the painter and the capacity of the viewer to act in appropriate and sensitive ways. Indeed, not only did the mother herself influence social standards by succeeding or failing in inculcating manners and morals in her offspring, but her representation could inspire domestic affection as a beneficent example to its spectatorship.
The previous chapter presented a developmental model for the representation of maternity. As the eighteenth century progressed and prescriptive and fictional writers came to elevate and adulate the duties of motherhood, portraits of women with their children became increasingly sentimental, intimate and focussed on the relationship between the attentive, caring parent and the childlike, responsive offspring. Thus, as seen in the context of marital portraiture, the models of change advocated by historians such as Stone do accord with mainstream pictorial and textual ideologies. However, the new affective ethos did not render abiding, seemingly more 'traditional' concerns obsolete. Just as the eighteenth-century companionate marriage did not preclude the persistence of restrictive gendered 'spheres', so the impact of sensibility on parenting did not destroy hierarchical constructions of the family. As Naomi Tadmor has amply demonstrated, whilst texts such as Pamela, Clarissa and The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless testify to burgeoning sentiment, they also clearly evince the sex, seniority and marital status of each character, fixing each individual in a highly structured network of authority, responsibility and subordination.) N. Tadmor, 'Concepts of the Family in five Eighteenth-Century Texts', (unpub. Ph.D. thesis, Cambridge, (1992), especially chapters 6 and 7; N. Tadmor, 'Dimensions of Inequality among Siblings in Eighteenth-Century English Novels: The Cases of Clarissa The History of Miss Betsy and Thoughtless', Continuity and Change 7, 3 (1992), especially pp.304-18; N.
Tadmor, "Family' and A Case-Study in the History of the Family in Eighteenth-Century England', 'Friend' in Pamela:
Social History 14 (1989), p.305 This chapter will firstly argue that, whilst the father was increasingly depicted as involved and concerned with his dependants, his essentially supervisory and authoritative role as head of the household remained undiminished. Second, it will show that hierarchical structures similarly persisted in the representation of offspring.
Whilst eighteenth-century artists did demonstrate an increasing concern to indicate the peculiarly juvenile characteristics of children, they continued to categorise them according to age and sex. Thus, masculinity was privileged over femininity and maturity took precedence over infancy. Finally, it will be argued that a sense of the child's future adulthood remained paramount in such images, whether in terms of potential maternity, landownership or, more generally, as a useful and virtuous member of society. Toys, games, clothes and books were not merely designed to indulge the child's infantile state, but were also aimed at preparing him or her for such destined duties.
* * * * * The relationship between the father and the larger family unit has received a fraction of the attention devoted to the role of motherhood. Feminist historians have discussed and debated the position of women within the family, together with its implications for wider social constructions of gender, whilst that of men has been largely neglected. 2 The conventional view of fatherhood, developed over the last few decades, has been, to a degree, constructed out of the remnants of debates over 'separate spheres'. It has been argued that, as women were increasingly restricted to
Spheres? (London and New York, 1998), p.13 domestic duties and barred from the workplace, so men were increasingly removed from the household. Thus, as Davidoff and Hall have argued, their involvement within the family progressively dwindled to the extent that, by the 1830s, writers were encouraging fathers to spend a mere hour or so a day with their children. 3 Similarly, judith Lewis has proposed that, from the 1760s onwards, wives bore the brunt of responsibility for children, resulting in increasing criticism of the indifferent father.4 Revisions of this dominant thesis are similarly patchy, but once again counter developmental models with theories of continuity. For example, Linda Pollock has argued that fathers had always been involved, anxious and caring. Despite taking a less active part in day-to-day childrearing than mothers, they were prepared to pull their weight when children were sick and were always concerned with the educative process. S Similarly, Amanda Vickery has argued that fathers' involvement with and emotional attachment to children was far from negligible, although the main responsibility for babies and young children always lay with women. 6 Writers of the later eighteenth century certainly began to attack the absentee father, supporting claims of increasing paternal indifference. In 1774, Hugh Downman L. Davidoff and C. Hall. Family Fortunes: Men and Women of the English Middle Class 1780-1850 (London. 1987). p.333. For a similar thesis on developments in France. see E. Badinter.
The Myth of Motherhood: An Historical View of the Maternal Instinct (London. 1981). pp.3-4. 118.
246. 251-3 in which she claims that the ideological spotlight moved from the father figure and authority to that of the mother and love. so that the father "gradually retired to the sidelines." He became increasingly absorbed in his public duties and. from an elevated position as God's lieutenant and a substitute for the King. was relegated to the status of an ordinary being.
J.S. Lewis. In the Family Way: Childbearing in the British Aristocracy, 1760-1860 (New Brunswick. New Jersey. 1986). p.67 L.A. Pollock, Forgotten Children: Parent-Child Relations from 1500-1900 (Cambridge.
1983). pp.l03. 261 A. Vickery. The Gentleman's Daughter: Women's Lives in Georgian England (New Haven and London. 1998). p.123. See also Shoemaker. Gender in English SOciety, p.128 demanded: "Come then Ye Sires! Whom love of Offspring, or of Country sways,!
Think not these strains, think not the Nursery's carel Beneath your notice", whilst William Buchan, writing at the same time, rendered the implication behind the poet's statement explicit.? He bemoaned the fact that fathers paid "so little regard" to the business of managing children and claimed that this neglect led to female ignorance of such matters, women tending to concentrate on "such accomplishments as recommend them to the other sex";
men generally keep at such a distance from even the smallest acquaintance with the affairs of the nursery, that many would esteem it an affront, were they supposed to know anything of them. Not so, however, with the kennel or the stables: A gentleman of the first rank is not ashamed to give directions concerning the management of his dog or horses, yet would blush were he surprised in performing the same office for that being who derived its existence from himself, who is the heir of his fortunes, and the future hope of
However, pictorial representations of fatherhood followed an antipathetic path of development to this model of increasing paternal indifference. As the eighteenth century progressed, the dominance of the pater familias in the larger family group became muted and he came to be pictured as increasingly absorbed and engrossed in the wellbeing of his dependants. As a result, early compositional models such as the H. Downman, Infancy, a Poem (London, 1774), p.3 W. Buchan, Domestic Medicine; or, A Treatise on the Prevention and Cure of Diseases by Regimen and Simple Medicines (1769) (Dublin, 3rd edition, 1774), p.4 pictorially pre-eminent patriarch gesturing to his wife and children, clearly presenting them for approval and mediating the gaze of the spectator through his defining presence, were displaced. This motif can be seen in an anonymous portrait of Cornelius Lyde motioning to his wife and to the daughter who is seated on her lap (fig.72). This infant, in tum, looks back and thus redirects the viewer's attention towards her father. Similarly, in Bartholomew Dandridge's portrayal of the d' Albiac family in Hungerford Park (fig.I), the father figure is entirely separate from the wife and children towards whom he again gesticulates. His sons are grouped nearest to him, emphasising the importance of male children for the continuation of the family line. His daughter, posed on the opposite side of the picture, returns his hand motion, thus again diverting the spectator's gaze back to the patriarch and returning the emphasis of the image to the source of familial authority, status and identity.
Such poses became infrequent as the century progressed and "painters began to dramatize the paternal role... depicting the father of the family in his own home actively nurturing and protecting his children."9 In the later eighteenth century, the father was shown in greater interaction with the family group, engaging in activities with his offspring, reacting to their childish antics and regarding them with pride.
Desmond Shawe-Taylor has pointed to portraits such as Copley's Sir William Pepperrell and his Family of 1777 (fig.67) as evidence for such increased paternal involvement in family life. 1o Pepperrell leans in towards his dependants, gazing attentively down at the baby who stretches one arm up towards him in response. This K. Calvert. Children in the House: The Material Culture of Early Childhood 1600-1900 (Boston. 1992). p.90
1990). p.193 integration is enhanced by the compositional structure. A diagonal line, demarcated by the curtain, leads the eye from the patriarch to his wife and thence to the siblings who are engrossed in their board game. When Johann Zoffany painted Lord Willoughby de Broke and his Family in 1766 (fig.73), he similarly integrated the figure of the patriarch into the larger group. De Broke once again rests on his wife's chair and is compositionally united with the family. He raises an admonishing finger towards the child who attempts to steal a piece of toast from the breakfast table whilst another pulls a wooden horse along the ground at his feet.