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Whilst many writers did chastise the absent head of the household, the newly sentimental ideal of the tender and concerned patriarch pictured by such artists was increasingly apparent in eighteenth-century prescriptive and fictional texts. Indeed, such writings sometimes defined the father in terms that echo those literary vistas of adoring and admirable motherhood outlined in the previous chapter. I I The Spectator pictured a patriarch "with a Large Family of Children about him...in his Countenance different Motions of Delight, as he turned his Eye towards the one and the other of them."12 Similarly, the exemplary Mr Wilson in Joseph Andrews invites Parson Adams and, by implication, the reader, to imagine him "stretched on the ground... my children playing round me", whilst Hugh Downman asked, "dost thou wish! The Name of Father, amiable, humane?! To view thy little Progeny around! Happy, wellform'd, and strong."13 The emphasis on the visual, the sense of the approving gaze of both author and reader and the imaging of a central parental figure surrounded by an
The Spectator no.192 (10 October 1711). in The Spectator (1711-12.1714). ed. D.F. Bond.
5 Vols. (Oxford. 1965) II. pp.252-3 H. Fielding. 'The History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews' (1742). in A. Humphreys, ed., Henry Fielding; Joseph Andrews and Shamela (London. 1993). p.253; Downman, Infancy, p.3 amiable progeny, a worthy circle of response, are all familiar from constructions of motherhood. Once again, the structures of sensibility, seeking a sentient response through the visual display of virtue and emotion, are called into play. Whilst such literary views of fathers in the domestic sphere are few and far between in comparison to those of mothers, their existence does suggest some sentimentalisation of paternity to accompany that of maternity.
The seeming conflict between the increasingly removed patriarch emphasised by historians and described by writers such as William Buchan and the increasingly involved father depicted in the family portrait and described in texts such as Joseph Andrews can, however, be resolved. Exhortations against the father who deemed the education and welfare of his children unworthy of his attention antithetically constructed the caring and attentive father as worthy of praise and approval. It is uncertain whether criticisms of the detached man of business were, to any degree, representative of reality or functioned on a purely rhetorical plane, but they certainly served to delineate the positive virtues with which men would wish to associate themselves in their portraits. Thus, sitters such as Lord Willoughby de Broke and Sir William Pepperrell are depicted in the midst of the family group, casting their benign gazes about them and thereby revealing themselves to be men of refinement, sensibility and compassion. Indeed, they can be seen as all the more morally laudable for their rejection of such feared masculine disinterest in the household.
However, in contrast to the cloying idealisation of the maternal role, the investment of fatherhood with sentimental value was necessarily limited. Whilst portraits did come to depict a heightened sense of interaction between the patriarch and the family group, his role remained restrained and largely supervisory. For example, Sir William Pepperrell's relationship with his family is clearly more intimate and informal than that of Cornelius Lyde, but he is excluded from the physically united group of Lady Pepperrell and two of their children who are described in a pictorial language developed from the imagery of the Madonna, Christ Child and St.
John.14 The sense of separation is enhanced by his dark and sombre garb which makes a striking contrast with the gold, pink and cream hues of the costumes of the females.
Critics at the time observed this disjunction. A writer in The Morning Chronicle noted; "the figure of the gentleman, leaning behind with some plans in his hand, seems... to be oddly placed, and not properly one of the family."15 Lord Willoughby de Broke is similarly depicted at a slight remove, supervising the scene of the family at breakfast and assuming ultimate authority for their behaviour. Like Pepperrell, he dominates the family at the apex of a triangUlar group, the remaining family members arranged around in hierarchical order. Such compositional formats were dominant throughout the tradition of the conversation piece. 16 For example, in Devis's A Family Group on a Terrace in a Garden (fig.53) painted some years before, the standing figure of the father is similarly placed above the group of the mother with her younger children. An infant on the right of the painting attempts to join its siblings, grouped on the opposite side of the canvas, eagerly anticipating their relative maturity.
Thus, whilst Stone claimed that the patriarchal family was a thing of the past by the eighteenth century, the authority of the eldest male within the household clearly 14 See, for example, Raffaello Sanzio, Madonna of the Meadow (1505, Vienna.
Kunsthistorisches Museum) The Morning Chronicle, 26 April 1777. This piece also appeared in The London Packet; or, New lloyd's Evening Post, 25-28 April 1777 16 R. Paulson. Emblem and Expression: Meaning in English Art of the Eighteenth Century (London. 1975), pp.122-3 remained paramount. 17 His dominion was described by the same writers who constructed the vistas of affectionate and involved paternity outlined above. indicating that no conflict was perceived between increased sentimental investment in the paternal role and continuing patriarchy, Whilst these authors recommended that mothers should assume responsibility for the majority of daY-lo-day childrearing tasks. they advised that fathers should oversee the process, This hierarchy. in which "women acted under the supervision of men" and in which power and laoour were distinguished, is apparent in Hugh Downman's exhortation that fathers should;
Such writers argued that men should provide economic support for the family unit.
looking both to the present and the future as it wus thought that "the tusk of making u reasonable provision for the future wunts of children belongs, in common cases. to the L. Stone. The Family. Sex mId Marriage ill EnI(ICII!t1150()·180() (l.ondon. 1977). passim.
P. Brown and L. lordanova. 'Oppressive Dichutomies: The Nature/Culture Debate'. in III Womt'll ill Society: /nlerdi.vcip/illary E.t.wys (Cambridge, 1981), p.2J5; P. Crawl'ord, "The Slll:king
COlllilluily mId CJ!tlllNe I. 1 (1986), p.43; Duwnman, hl/tlll('y, pp.3·4 father."19 They were hailed as the civil and religious representatives of the family unit and were held to be responsible for discipline within it, complementing the role of their wives as the daily trainers and socialisers of children. Finally, it was believed that fathers should retain control over major decisions affecting their children's lives, whether it be their education, their choice of apprenticeship or their selection of a marital partner. 20 The patriarch was therefore defined as the ultimate decision-making authority and the overseer of processes of civilisation and education.
The one area in which it seems that the father's authority did become tempered as the century progressed was that of feeding regimes. As the issue became increasingly caught up in the cult of sensibility and as breastfeeding became one of the central tropes of increasingly sentimentalised constructions of motherhood, the use of male authority to demand that a child be wet-nursed became more questionable.
Whilst in 1714, Richard Steele was prepared to accept "Disability, Sickness, or the Evident Danger of the Mother, or the Interposition of the Father's Authority, or some very Extraordinary and publick Necessity" as reasons for having recourse to a nurse, James Nelson later despaired that; "many a sensible Woman, many a tender Mother, has her Heart yearning to suckle her Child, and is prevented by the misplac'd Authority of a Husband."21 Similarly, Mary Wollstonecraft complained at the end of the century; "there are many husbands so devoid of sense and parental affection that T. Gisborne, Enquiry into the Duties of the Female Sex (1797) (London, 9 th edition, 1810), p.376 Shoemaker, Gender in English Society, especially p.124; P. Crawford, 'The Construction and Experience of Maternity in Seventeenth-Century England', in V. Fildes, ed., Women as Mothers in Pre-Industrial England: Essays in Memory of Dorothy Mclaren (London and New York, 1990), p.13;
Davidoff and Hall, Family Fortunes, pp.329, 335; Pollock, Forgotten Children, p.120 21 R. Steele, The Ladies Library 3 Vols. (London, 1714), II, pp.221-2; 1. Nelson, An Essay on the Management of Children (1753) (London, 3n1 edition, 1763), pp.46-7 during the first effervescence of voluptuous fondness, they refuse to let their wives suckle their children."22 * * * * * Hierarchy was also evident throughout eighteenth-century portraiture in the constant differentiation of children within the family group according to age and sex.
Ludmilla Iordanova has encouraged the analysis of such distinctions, pointing out that traditional histories of infancy (as exemplified by the work of J.H. Plumb) ignore sex and thus erroneously treat children as a universal entity.23 Indeed, the fallaciousness of this older approach becomes even more apparent in the light of recent research which demonstrates that the eighteenth century saw more advocacy of gender discrimination in childrearing than ever before. 24 Such preoccupations inevitably affected portraits of children which, as a consequence, expressed "social expectations about the nature and appearance of, for example, girls, or older children, or younger brothers."25 22 Wollstonecraft, referring to the popular taboo on sexual intercourse during lactation, quoted in V.A. Fildes, Breasts, Bottles and Babies: A History of Infant Feeding (Edinburgh, 1986), p.l04. The clash between a father's authority in this matter and the mother's wishes was illustrated in Samuel Richardson'S Pamela: Volume II (1741), ed. M. Kinkead-Weekes (London and Melbourne, 1984), pp.228-31 when Mr B forbids his wife to nurse. She argues her case but in the end capitulates in deference to his wish to maintain her services and body as entirely at his own disposal.
23 L. Jordanova, 'New Worlds for Children in the Eighteenth Century: Problems of Historical Interpretation', History of the Human Sciences 3, 1 (Feb 1990), p.73. Marcia Pointon in Hanging the Head: Portraiture and Social Formation in Eighteenth-Century England (New Haven and London, 1993), p.200 has similarly emphasised the importance of sexual difference in the history of childhood.
A.J. Stewart, D.G. Winter and A.D. Jones, 'Coding Categories for the Study of Child-rearing from Historical Sources', Journal of Interdisciplinary History 5,4 (Spring 1975), p.701 25 Calvert, Children in the House, p.41 Throughout the eighteenth century, age and sex were visually identified through costume. Infants wearing coats with broad sashes around their waists were recognisable as either girls or boys under the age of six, before breeching had taken place. From the 1750s onwards, older male children were distinguished from infants on the one hand and from men on the other by their skeleton suits, which consisted of long trousers buttoned to a short jacket. Girls, however, went straight from 'coats to wearing the same styles and fashions as their mothers. Second, represented behaviour helped to denote the status of a child. Two of the younger offspring in Reynolds's The Marlborough Family of 1777/9 (fig.S) play boisterously, the action of the girl with the grotesque mask and the alarmed response of her sister evincing their immaturity. In contrast, the Marquess of Blandford, the eldest son, adopts a sober demeanour that is suitable to his future role as the next Duke. In addition, games and toys played a significant role in the process of categorisation. Girls were often depicted with dolls and needlework baskets whilst boys were shown with toy canons, drums, bows and arrows, revealing clearly gendered notions of socialisation. Finally, typical pictorial arrangements of family members, the younger children and daughters arrayed around their mother in a group overseen by the father and eldest son, were also significant in defining the relative place of each individual within the household. 26 For such categorisation to be effective, these schemata had to be uniform and widely accepted. For example, in 1750, an aspiring artist urged his brother to generate numerous children to give him the opportunity to practice his painterly expertise in constructing a conversation piece. He hopefully envisaged a principal group consisting of his sibling and sister-in-law, surrounded by their offspring on either side who See, for example, Johann Zoffany, Lord Willoughby de Broke and his Family of 1766 (fig.73) and John Singleton Copley's Sir William Pepperrell and his Family of 1777 (fig.67) would be "represented at employments or diversions proper to their age and sex."27 Later, one of the press reviews eulogising Reynolds's ability to capture the innocence and charm of his juvenile sitters, significantly praised him for having "given them sports conformable to their ages, and simplicity conformable to their sports. "28 A concern for nicety in pictorial discrimination (and its widespread acceptance) is also revealed in portraits such as Johann Zoffany's depiction of the family of the 3rd Duke of Atholl of 1767 (fig.2). The eldest son, John, wears a costume that replicates that of the Duke. He proudly displays the fish that he has caught for the perusal of the rest of the family and thereby demonstrates the fruits of the practical education he has received from his father. Two of the younger boys have been breeched and are engaged in similarly masculine, but more juvenile activities. James has climbed an apple tree in chase of the family's pet whilst his sibling, George, remains at the bottom, having been entrusted with the responsibility of guarding the family's coats.
The fourth and youngest son, William, is seated next to his mother and sisters with whom he is visually connected by his infant's skirts. This group, in tum, is united by the suitably feminine attributes of flowers. The eldest daughter holds a full garland of roses whilst her younger sister proffers a single bloom to her mother and to the baby on her lap.
Such standard differentiation was even more apparent when siblings were