«A Thesis Submitted for the Degree of PhD at the University of Warwick This thesis is made available online and is ...»
Instead of being regarded as immature adults, children are now treated much more on their own terms and with a new awareness of their special needs and their vulnerability."38 Most recently, J.e. Steward has reinforced the claim that artists 37 A. Wilson, 'The Infancy of the History of Childhood: An Appraisal ofPhillipe Aries', History 19 (1980), pp.140, 145, 146; P. Fuller, 'Uncovering Childhood', in M. Hoyles, ed., and Theory Changing Childhood (London, 1979), pp.71-108 38 Shawe-Taylor, The Georgians, pp.186-91; A. Smart, Allan Ramsay 1713-1784 (Edinburgh, 1992), pp.18-9 became increasingly concerned with and attentive to the "observed 'childlike' nature of children."39 Comparisons of portraits such as that of the Lydes and Zoffany's Lord Willoughby de Broke and his Family certainly substantiate the Aries thesis. The daughter of Cornelius Lyde sits in a rigid, upright posture on her mother's lap, stretching one hand out towards her father in a pose that anticipates her dutiful regard for his authority. Her dress, with its stiffly structured bodice, reveals no concessions to the infancy of its wearer and her features and physical build fail to differentiate her from her parents. In contrast, the posture of the youngest child in Zoffany's portrait clearly indicates its youth as it lolls against its mother's shoulder and nearly places one foot in a teacup; more interested in the viewer than in its parents.
flow of spirits which usually belongs to such a time of life," "infant fear," "infantine expression of countenance" and "childish amusement."41 A central problem with much analysis of the pictorial representation of childhood is that it has been isolated from the traditions of the larger family group. As Ludmilla 10rdanova has emphasised, "there is no autonomous, authentic voice of children... their testimony is inevitably bound in with the world of adults."42 Portraits of children were usually commissioned by their parents and thus, transformations in the ways in which children were depicted arguably reveal transformations in the ways and means by which children reflected on their mothers and fathers. That it was about more than a straightforward development of concern with the particularities of infancy is indicated in one of the few art historical texts to deviate from the standard whiggish model. Patricia Crown noted that the 'new child' was not the only child present in eighteenth-century art and contrasted portraits by Reynolds and Gainsborough with their Fancy Pictures. Whilst the children in the former are located within the specific environs of the homes and gardens of their parents, named, carefully dressed and engaged with toys, games and books, infants portrayed in Fancy Pictures are placeless and nameless. They are mere "objects in the environment, suitable for incorporation into a picture like trees, hovels and animals."43 Developments in juvenile literature have similarly been related to developments in concepts of parenting and, in The Morning Chronicle, 29 May 1772; The Morning Chronicle, 4 May 1774; The General Advertiser, 27 April 1778; The Whitehall Evening Post, 22-24 May 1787; The Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser, 30 April 1782 42 lordanova, 'New Worlds for Children', pp.78-80. See also Pointon, Hanging the Head, pp.
178,184,206 43 P. Crown, 'Portraits and Fancy Pictures by Gainsborough and Reynolds: Contrasting Images of Childhood', British Journal of Eighteenth-Century Studies 7 (Autumn 1984), p.160 particular, motherhood. For example, Beth Kowaleski-Wallace has argued that, whilst Maria Edgeworth's children's story, The Purple Jar, "addresses its young readers about the necessity for a series of virtues, it speaks with equal clarity to their mothers about the important role they are to assume in the instruction of those virtues."44 It is thus the specificity of children as offspring that is key to both literary and pictorial developments.
Therefore, to argue that the transition from miniature adults to childlike children evidences the actual historical development of an awareness of infancy is problematic. Equally, however, it is hard to believe that artists acquired new technical ability and found new sources on which to draw in the few decades that elapsed between the portrait of the Lydes and that of the de Broke family. It is more probable that, as writers came to emphasise the delights and quirks of childhood, prompted by a new appreciation for nature and influenced by writers such as Rousseau, so artists acquired a new stimulus to recreate those particularities on canvas. And, as prescriptive authors recommended that children be allowed to move and play freely, so representations of offspring that adhered to such edicts reflected well upon their parents. Female sitters such as Lady Cockburn (fig.6), portrayed with loosely draped infants on their laps, showed that they heeded the widespread rejection of the practice of swaddling to allow the juvenile form to develop naturally. Similarly, the way in which her sons gambol and play around her chair demonstrates her awareness of B. Kowaleski-Wallace, 'Home Economics: Domestic Ideology in Maria Edgeworth's Belinda', The Eighteenth Century 29,3 (1988), p.244. See also M. Myers, 'Impeccable Governesses, Rational Dames, and Moral Mothers: Mary Wollstonecraft and the Female Tradition in Georgian Children's Books', in F. Butler, M. Higonnet and B. Rosen, eds., Children's Literature 14 (New Haven and London, 1986), p.33 exercise and uninhibited movement as imperative to the child's physical and, by association, mental health.
However, because these portraits arguably reveal more about parenting than about the state of infancy as an abstract entity, this new concern for its particularities was inevitably limited, as suggested by the anticipation of spousal roles in poses and compositional devices. Such portraits envision the future maturity of the sitters.
Artists may have increasingly depicted children with rounded faces and childlike physiques, engaged in play and infantile pastimes, but that play and those pastimes were critical in suggesting future adult roles. Girls clasped flowers, pets or dolls, clear references to their future motherhood, whilst boys played with toys that implied forthcoming masculine roles and characteristics. Bows and arrows suggested military prowess, the casting of a proprietorial arm over a surrounding landscape referred to potential landownership and portraits of fathers instructing their sons in the ways of the aristocratic collector, such as the Duke of Marlborough in Reynolds's portrait of 1777/9, promised a future connoisseur.45 This emphasis, co-existent with the new attention to infantile physiognomy and behaviour, was prompted by the position of children within the context of the family. Their achievements as future adults were important both for the wider domestic unit and for establishing the success of their parents as educators and socialisers.
Such ideas of 'futurity' were prominent in literature throughout the eighteenth century. For example, one fictional correspondent of The Spectator describes how he amuses himself with "finding out a General, an Admiral, or an Alderman of London, a Divine, a Physician, or a Lawyer" amongst his sons.46 Later in the period, James 45 For a more detailed discussion of such pictures, see chapter 5, pp.220-3 46 The Spectator no.5oo (3 October 1712), in The Spectator, IV, p.275 Nelson recommended that boys be educated "to fill some certain Post, some certain Station in life", whilst William Buchan advocated early military training, providing the child with necessary skills when later called upon to defend his country.47 Similarly, it was advised that girls be inculcated with skills and characteristics that would enable them to fulfil mature feminine roles. The same character in The Spectator follows his hopeful vision of the future of his sons with the statement;
"when I see the Motherly Airs of my little Daughters when they are playing with their Puppets, I cannot but flatter my self that their Husbands and Children will be happy, in the possession of such Wives and Mothers."48 Hugh Smith later invited his readers similarly to envisage a young girl "caressing a waxen image, dressing and undressing it with all the pomp and importance of a tender mother." Such an imagined scene was not merely proposed as endearing and amusing, but as revealing an inherent maternal instinct, "justly remarked to grow up with the sex into life."49 As well as children being trained and encouraged to display traits that anticipated adult roles, ideas of 'futurity' extended to the creation of the social man.
This is most apparent in the frequent representation of boyish cruelty to animals, epitomised in the first plate of William Hogarth's Four Stages of Cruelty of 1751 (fig.S3). In this image, one dog has been impaled on a poker, the leg of another has been tied to its body and two cats have been suspended by their tails. Whilst Hogarth's painting of Lord Grey dangling a puppy by its hind legs is reasonably explicit (1740s, Washington Gallery of Art), the theme was usually more muted in portraiture. It was 47 Nelson, Essay on the Management o/Children, p.268; Buchan, Domestic Medicine, p.21 The Spectator no.5oo (3 October 1712), in The Spectator, IV, p.275
of Bute. The core of this concern with such cruelty, prompted by the cult of sensibility, was that it could (unless tempered and channelled into proper adult activities) lead to barbaric treatment of fellow humans when the child was grown.
Indeed, the first plate of the Four Stages of Cruelty, foreshadowing Tom Nero's
subsequent cruelty to larger animals and then to humans, is inscribed:
Novels such as The History of Sandford and Merton adopted this idea and the torment that Lovelace inflicts on Clarissa is anticipated by that which he foists on dogs and birds whilst still a boy. 50 The same message appeared in conduct literature, from Richard Steele who warned parents that "barbarous usage of Creatures" could harden the hearts of their children against future charity, to Thomas Gisborne who wrote;
"they who are inured in their childhood to persecute the bird or torture the insect, will have hearts, in maturer years, prepared for barbarity to their fellow-creatures."51 The notion dominated numerous books intended for children themselves. In Life and Perambulations of a Mouse, Dorothy Kilner warns her juvenile audience that the man 50 T. Day, The History of Sandford and Merton (London, 1783-9), passim.; S. Richardson, Clarissa; or, The History of a Young Lady (1747-8), ed. A. Ross (Harmondsworth, 1985), pp.557. 610 51 Steele, The Ladies Library, II, p.236; Gisborne. Enquiry into the Duties of the Female Sex, p.398. See also M. Wollstonecraft, 'A Vindication of the Rights of Women', in I. Todd, ed., Mary Wollstonecraft: Political Writings (Oxford, 1994), p.258 who is "cruel to animals" is rarely "kind and compassionate towards his fellowcreatures."52 Similarly, when Pity's Gift: A Collection of Interesting Tales, to Excite the Compassion of Youth for the Animal Creation was published in 1798, it was advertised in the Lady's Monthly Museum with the comment: "Those who cultivate habits of mercy to dumb creatures, can hardly be cruel to one another."53 * * * * * Scholars such as Desmond Shawe-Taylor have argued that the dominant view of the child in the eighteenth century was the Rousseauean notion of infancy as an inherently innocent condition, only corrupted by the evils of society.54 However, to