Impressionist Children Childhood, Family, and Modern Identity in French Art Greg M. Thomas

Publication date:
22 Feb 2011
Yale University Press
240 pages: 254 x 203mm
150 b-w + 25 color illus.
Sales territories:

Images of children and families abound in the works of the French Impressionists, from Claude Monet’s portraits of his young sons to Mary Cassatt’s endearing images of mother and child. In Impressionist Children, Greg M. Thomas offers new perspectives on some of the most famous paintings in art history, explaining how they reflect the dominant social, cultural, and political aspects of Parisian middle-class life in the late 1800s.

Drawing on letters, children’s books, tourist guidebooks, and 19th-century texts on child development, parenting, and education, Thomas skillfully demonstrates how childhood became a crucial theme for its embodiment of adult ideas about childhood, the family, sexuality, work and leisure, national culture, and, above all, the formation and reproduction of bourgeois identity. He discusses paintings, prints, drawings, and sculptures by Impressionist artists and investigates the influence of popular visual culture—fashion, toys, studio photography, and illustrations in books, magazines, and park guides—on the Impressionists’ conceptualization of childhood and family relations.

Greg M. Thomas is associate professor and chairman of the department of fine arts at the University of Hong Kong. He is the author of Art and Ecology in 19th-Century France: The Landscapes of Théodore Rousseau.

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