Skip to main content

Childhood’s Lost World

December 2023
1min read

While nineteenth-century parents were wrestling with complex considerations of their children’s souls and characters, nineteenth-century painters tended to coat the whole world of childhood in heavy layers of sentimentality. Beautiful, wholesome children stare out at us from excessively pretty portraits; engaging youngsters are shown in scenes of innocent play or appealing mischief. To the modern taste, these sentimental paintings often seem a bit sticky, and a great many of the artists who painted them have virtually been forgotten. Recently, however, a new spurt of enthusiasm for nineteenth-century painting has revived interest in many long-ignored pictures. A MERICAN H ERITAGE has here assembled a portfolio of children in the last century—city, country, rich, poor, Northern, Southern—sometimes romantic but all, we feel, quite irresistible.

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this 72-year tradition of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.