Skip to main content

Childhood’s Lost World

July 2024
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.

Enjoy our work? Help us keep going.

Now in its 75th year, American Heritage relies on contributions from readers like you to survive. You can support this magazine of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it by donating today.