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Introduction


Depiction of childhood is a relatively new theme in art. For a long time in the history of human culture there has been no special attitude to the children, their world hasn't been marked by inimitable distinctness. Nevertheless, pictures of children can be found in the art of Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. Frescoes of Ancient Egyptian palaces and shrines are the main source of information for historians about the children's lives, their games, schooling, etc.

In Ancient Greece, infantile representations were rare and narrowed down to pictures of Amur (God of Love, son of Aphrodite) and Hermes in childhood (due to the correspondent mythology), or ephebes. In Ancient Rome, the same tradition is kept, with portraits of children as representatives of a certain clan. For a long period of time, the European tradition has regarded a child as a little adult. The art of the Middle, Ages depicts the children in an emblematic way, as one of the human ages. The most widespread picture of a child is little Jesus. The Christian art doesn't separate the theme of childhood from that of maternity (Madonna and Child) which becomes one of the most popular at the Renaissance, combining the sacral motif and its secular score. At the same time, the antique tradition of portraying children is revived again.

The tradition of portraying the noble blood children as little adults has endured for a long time. The Classicism art is mainly about depicting the young body (including the tender years) and admiring its special plastic of transformation in an antique way. In the 17th century, there appeared a theory of separating childhood from adulthood that was worked out at the age of Enlightenment and included purposeful upbringing and teaching. The children were considered a special age, when their becoming depends on adults not only in the bodily aspect. At the same time, pubescence wasn't thought to be a transition period. The juvenile years were defined by the socio-societal status, accession to manhood and civil rights. The portraits of children are still of a dress-up character. The art of sentimentalism mildness this tonality. The tradition of Romanticism depicts the child as a human being of full value, with an elaborate world of spirit. The impressionists saw the children as a model full of rich descriptive possibilities.

The realistic art of the late 19th - early 20th centuries also paid a close attention to the children. Step by step, the European culture marked childhood as a self-valuable age with its own particularity of Weltanschauung. Humanity has reached it through different socio-cultural changes of a very gradual character. The previous epochs have left many spotty and diversified in time notions about childhood: weakness, dependence on adults, innocence, nescience of the conscious sin, transitivity to more conscious life forms full of value.

The development of the psychoanalysis theory at the beginning of the 20th century deprived childhood of its "innocence" but left its naivety of perceiving the age transformation processes. The baby-boom epoch after the World War II singled childhood out into a special period, thus cutting it from the adolescent age and juvenility, and regenerated a sentimentally conservatory attitude to it. In the contemporary art, the children images are included into various contexts, reflecting a difficult and controversial attitude of society to this period of human life.

This site has pictures of children of different ages made by various artists of different time frames. Contemporary artists' works constitute the majority of the pictures. The works are presented in accordance with the art criteria, pictures of children of accidental and documentary characters are left behind.

Igor Kraszewski, translated by Andrey Bursau

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