National Academy Museum

and School of Fine Arts


Fair and Free: Images of Childhood, 1824-1992

November 26, 1997 - March 8, 1998




Several paintings in the exhibition express the charm of children by depicting them in roles usually associated with adults. For example, in Eastman Johnson's The Art Lover, probably painted in the 1850s, a little girl intently inspects a large book of prints. Johnson's European training in Dusseldorf and in the Netherlands is reflected in the looseness of the brushwork as well as in details such as the wooden sabots that the child wears. Likewise, Edouard Frere's The Young Cook (ca. 1855) and Lemuel Wilmarth's Left in Charge (1874) put children in the roles of chef and parent respectively.

Lydia Field Emmet (1866-1952)

Grandmother's Garden, n.d.

oil on canvas, 32 x 43 inches

Courtesy: National Academy Museum, NA diploma presentation, 1914

Photographer: Glenn Castellano


Animals, which often appear in paintings with children as symbols of innocence and devotion, are seen in several works in the exhibition. Anthony DeRose's The Little Drummer (1830-31) features a small, attentive dog, and John Thomas Peele's The Pet conveys the affection between a little girl and her rather aristocratic-looking cat.

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