Imagining Childhood Erika Langmuir

Publication date:
10 Nov 2006
Yale University Press
256 pages: 241 x 190mm
45 b-w + 120 color illus.


The images of children that abound in Western art do not simply mirror reality; they are imaginative constructs, representing childhood as a special stage of human life, or emblematic of the human condition itself. In a compelling book ranging widely across time, national boundaries, and genres from ancient Egyptian amulets to Picasso’s Guernica, Erika Langmuir demonstrates that no historic period has a monopoly on the ‘discovery of childhood’. Famous pictures by great artists, as well as barely known anonymous artefacts, illustrate not only Western society’s perennially ambivalent attitudes to children, but also the many and varied functions that works of art have played throughout its history.

Erika Langmuir was formerly head of education at the National Gallery, London; she taught at the University of Sussex and was professor of art history at the Open University. She is the author of the National Gallery Companion Guide and several titles from the best-selling National Gallery Pocket Guides series, as well as co-author of the Yale Dictionary of Art and Artists, all published by Yale University Press.

is a beautiful object with thick waxy pages from which its reproductions glimmer and shine. The pictures are so numerous and the book so well designed that in a sense we do not need the text to make the point, but then we wouldn't be told what we were looking at in that calm and comforting parental voice.' - Frances Wilson,