Monday, February 24, 2014

17C Children on Checkerboard Floors from Holland to early America with rattles, coral, baskets, tulips, & pets


 1568 Unknown artist Portrait of a Girl holding a Rose & a Basket of Cherries.  Portraits at this period were loaded with levels of symbolism, and so, the rose and the cherries could just be symbols, which the contemporary viewer would have understood.  And on another level, they could suggest some tasks the child might be involved in, such as picking cherries.


In the Middle Ages, children usually were portrayed in art as miniature adults with no childish characteristics. In the 16C, images of children began to acquire a distinct childish appearance. From the 17C onwards, children were shown with toys & pets. 


 1590s Adriaen van der Linde (Dutch artist, 1560-1609) Portrait of a Young Girl, Adriaen van der Linde wearing coral necklaces & holding a rattle & basket


Before the 18C, children in portraits were usually dressed in the highest adult fashion appearing stiff & uncomfortable.


 1603 Attributed to Adriaen van der Linde (Dutch artist, 1560-1609) Three-Year-Old Boy with Colf Stick, which he could use indoors or out.


Many of these children seem to be posed on a flat dark stage made up of a patterned black & white floor, typical of domestic interiors in the Netherlands in this period.  During the 1600s, a shift in philosophical & social attitudes toward children & the notion of 'childhood' began in Europe.  Adults increasingly saw children as separate beings, innocent & in need of protection & training by the adults around them. Many of these portraits show the child in an interior, totally protected from the wild nature outside.


 1605 Artist van Zelven (Probably a German artist) Portrait of a Child with a Dog is the only recorded work by an artist who is identified on the floor tiles.


As the 17C progressed, artists increasingly portrayed children near windows showing nature and gardens beyond.  Some actually began to paint children in natural settings or surrounded by natural objects.  The children themselves draw the viewers' attention to nature, some point to a natural object, some carry baskets of fruit or flowers, others play with birds or pets.


 1609 Circle of Jan Claesz (Enkhuizen painter, b 1570- a 1618) An eight-year-old boy, possibly of the Blauhulck family, with his horse.  In this portrait, the young man is standing in a safe interior, but just on the threshold of more dangerous nature, which is visible in the background.


 1611 Paulus van Somer (Flemish artist, c. 1577 -1621) Child with a Rattle, Fruit, & a Dog in a protected interior


1609 Circle of Jan Claesz (Enkhuizen painte, b 1570- a 1618) An eight-year-old boy, possibly of the Blauhulck family, with his horse & dog


 1620s Unknown artist Portrait of a Young Boy holding a Garland of flowers in an safe interior


 1625 Unknown Artist of the Dutch school, Girl with cherries & doll.  She is on the verge of nature, but it is nature controlled as a formal garden.


 1627 Attributed to Robert Peake the Elder (active 1576–1626) A young Boy aged Four of the Howard Family in an interior.  Nature is suggested here by the boy's holding a bow & arrow, which he would use outdoors.


 1629 Attr to Dirck Dircksz van Santvoort (Dutch artist, 1610-1680) Portrait of a Child in an interior  aged Two Holding a tame Parrot


 1629 Unknown artist of the Dutch School Two Little Dutch Children in an interior with a view of Nature, Aprons, Holding Apples, Cherries, & a Straw Bag.  Children holding fruit combined with the glimpse out a window suggests that they might be spending some time outdoors gathering fruit.


 1630s Jan Cornelisz van Loenen (Dutch artist, 1590-1630) Portrait of a Little Girl in a dark, safe interior.


 1631 Unknown artist Sarra de Peyster in an interior. Inscription [at upper left] Sarra Depeyster AEtatis  30 Maenden 23 Mey 1631   The child here is holding a precious tulip.  Tulipmania was a frenzied period in Dutch history, from 1620 to 1637, when speculation in tulip bulbs went wild. The
prices went to astronomical levels - up to the equivalent of £1.3million per bulb.


 1631 Wybrand de Geest (Dutch artist, 1592-1661-65) Portrait of a Boy with a 'Colf' Stick which could be used outdoors.


 1632 Artist said to be a David Finnon, Small Girl with Remembrance Coin & cherries.  Even though she is in a safe interior, one of her tasks could have been collecting cherries from the garden.


 1632 Jan Anthonisz van Ravesteyn (Dutch painter, 1572-1657) Portrait of Joannes de Ruyter, 1632 - Princess Salimah Aga Khan.  This child is clearly in a safe interior surrounded by toys & holding a bird, but in the background gardeners work in the formal garden just beyond the view.


 1634 Harmen Willems Wieringa (Dutch painter, c 1597-1645) Portrait of Ida Catharina van Paffenrode with a Dog and a Basket of fruit.  She stands in a safe interior.


 1635 Unknown artist of the Dutch (Friesland) School Portrait of a Girl, Aged One, with a Rattle and a Coral Necklace in an interior


 1636 Unknown artist Child in an interior with a coral necklace & rattle holding a white tulip during a period where tulipmania was still strong & the tulip was precious.


 1644 Unknown artist of the Dutch School Portrait of a Boy, Aged Three, with a Large Hat & a Parrot


 1646 Portrait of a Child with a Toy Goat by an unknown Dutch artist


 1650 Unknown artist of the Dutch School Young Boy with Flowers in an architecturally revealing interior.


 1657 Jan Jansz. de Stomme (Dutch painter, 1615-c 1657)  Portrait of Evert en Reint Lewe with hats & coral necklaces.  The very controlled nature of a large formal garden can be seen out the window.


 1664 Cesar Pietersz, or Cesar Boetius van Everdingen (1616-17-1678) Two-year-old Boy with an Apple and a Bird.  This child is actually portrayed in an outdoor setting but with the traditional checkerboard tile floor.


 1670 American Artist Portrait of Alice Mason, by an unknown artist, C. 1670.The round collar of the pinafore identifies her as female.


These are early portraits of children in Boston.  These paintings are remarkable; simply because they were was painted in 1670, just 50 years after the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock on the coast of Massachusetts.  Here the artist has chosen to depict these children from Boston in a safe interior space defined simply by a black-and-white or monochromatic checkerboard floor sometimes with just a hint of decorative drapery in one of the upper corners.


 1670 The Freake Limner (American Colonial Era Painter, active 1670-c 1680) Henry Gibbs of Boston holding a bird.


Checkered floors were popular in colonial America, but these were probably not the traditional European tiled floors  The checkerboad pattern might have been painted directly on the wooden floorboards or on a canvas floor cloth.  Such attention to floor patterns would have appreared primarily in the homes of the affluent.  As late as 1800, Lyman Beecher noted that his wife introduced the 1st painted floor cloth (which she made herself) to East Hampton, Long Island, where all the other houses "had sanded floors, some of them worn through."  Beecher was referring to the practice of spreading sand on floorboards which could be sweep & refreshed as needed.


 1670 The Freake Limner (American Colonial Era Painter, active 1670-c 1680) Margaret Gibbs of Boston holding a fan.


Like the paintings of children in 17C Europe, the artist depicts these children looking far older than their years, but their exact ages are inscribed next to their heads. Here the children are little adults, unusually proportioned with stiff, erect postures.  Worried that children might become wild or immoral if not disciplined by strict religious & cultural rules, the Puritans of early New England assigned as many household & garden duties as possible to children & filled the children's remaining time with religious & educational activities.


 1670 The Freake Limner (American Colonial Era Painter, active 1670-c 1680) Robert Gibbs here holding the manly symbol of gloves.


The clothing in these American portraits is very simple. Early Massachusetts law stated that only the very wealthy could display extravagant clothing, which could only be worn by members of households whose income exceeded 200 pounds per year.  Yet even the well-to-do, influenced by New England's predominantly Puritan & Quaker ethics of the time, often frowned upon overly fancy clothes as vain & impious. It was common for wealthy people to wear simple clothes made of expensive fabric.


1680 Arent de Gelder (Dutch artist, 1645-1727) Portrait of a child, presumed Mattys Decker (b.1679)


If you are interested in the role of children in 17C Europe & its evolution, you might wish to read one of these books.

Ariès, Philippe. 1962. Centuries of Childhood: A Social History of Family Life. Trans. Robert Baldick. New York: Knopf.

Badinter, Elisabeth. 1981. The Myth of Motherhood: An Historical View of the Maternal Instinct. London: Souvenir.

Boswell, John. 1988. The Kindness of Strangers: The Abandonment of Children in Western Europe from Late Antiquity to the Renaissance. New York: Pantheon.

Cunningham, Hugh. 1995. Children and Childhood in Western Society since 1500. London: Longman.

Dekker, Jeroen, Leendert Groenendijk, and Johan Verberckmoes. 2000. "Proudly Raising Vulnerable Youngsters: The Scope for Education in the Netherlands." in Pride and Joy: Children's Portraits in the Netherlands 1500−1700, ed. Jan Baptist Bedaux and Rudi Ekkart. Ghent, Belgium: Ludion.

Griffiths, Paul. 1996. Youth and Authority: Formative Experiences in England 1560−1640. Oxford, UK: Clarendon.

Haas, Louis. 1998. The Renaissance Man and His Children: Childbirth and Early Childhood in Florence, 1300−1600. New York: St. Martin's.

Heywood, Colin. 2001. A History of Childhood: Children and Childhood in the West from Medieval to Modern Times. Cambridge, UK: Polity.

Krausman Ben-Amos, Ilana. 1994. Adolescence and Youth in Early Modern England. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Macfarlane, Alan. 1986. Marriage and Love in England. Modes of Reproduction 1300−1840. London: B. Blackwell.

Mause, Lloyd de. 1974. The History of Childhood. New York: Psycho-history Press.

Pollock, Linda. 1983. Forgotten Children: Parent-Child Relations from 1500 to 1900. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Pollock, Linda. 1987. A Lasting Relationship: Parents and their Children over Three Centuries. London: Fourth Estate.

Roberts, Benjamin B. 1996. "Fatherhood in Eighteenth-Century Holland: The Van der Muelen Brothers." in Journal of Family History 21: 218–228.

Roberts, Benjamin B. 1998. Through the Keyhole. Dutch Child-rearing Practices in the 17th and 18th Century: Three Urban Elite Families. Hilversum, Netherlands: Verloren.

Schama, Simon. 1987. The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age. New York: Knopf.

Shahar, Shulamith. 1990. Childhood in the Middle Ages. Trans. Chaya Galai. London: Routledge.

Shorter, Edward. 1975. The Making of the Modern Family. New York: Basic Books.

Stone, Lawrence. 1977. The Family, Sex, and Marriage in England 1500−1800. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.ed. Jan Baptist Bedaux and Rudi Ekkart. Ghent, Belgium: Ludion.


2 comments:

  1. Dear Madam.
    With interest we have looked at the many paintings of children on checkerboard.
    We are amateur sport historians and therefore interested in the picture of the young boy, holding a colf club in his hand. Would you be so kind to advice us why the boy is dressed as a girl, and how you can see if it is a boy or a girl.
    Your comments will be highly appreciated
    With kind regards
    Geert &Sara Nijs
    nijskie@gmail.com
    www.ancientgolf.dse.nl

    ReplyDelete
  2. Until the age of 7, boys and girls were both dressed in gowns. His hat and his outfit have a military flare. He has a club. These make me think he is a boy.

    ReplyDelete