The representation of children in Elizabethan and Jacobean portraits : 1560-1630

Cox, Angela (2018) The representation of children in Elizabethan and Jacobean portraits : 1560-1630. Masters thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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Abstract

This thesis investigates the representation of children through a study of 165 portraits dating from 1560 to 1630. It aims to understand the meanings and functions of child portraiture and the nature of its relationship to contemporary attitudes to childhood and the experiences of children. Portraits of children in this period have been largely neglected and this thesis argues that a more detailed examination of a substantial number of them can yield a rich seam of information. The approach is interdisciplinary, exploring the interfaces between social history and the history of art. It seeks to establish the relationship between the artistic form of the portrait and the social and cultural context in which it was produced and received. While the study encompasses 165 portraits, a significant proportion of those now extant, the main methodological approach is to discuss critically a focus group of sixty-three images, working ‘outwards’ from them: unravelling the meanings of the individual portraits and exploring their context and relationship to others. This study is not limited to portraits of named sitters but also engages with those whose names are forgotten. It is, however, restricted to easel paintings in which children appear on their own or with adults. The study reveals how family structures and familial relationships between children themselves and between their parents are inscribed in portraits. It assesses how concepts of childhood were visualised, engaging with issues of identity and gender. The pictorial record is shown both to affirm certain historical data, but also to question some common assumptions. It asserts the view that there was a distinct notion of childhood in this period, with recognisable stages of development. Finally, it is demonstrated that the portraits were not esteemed for their aesthetic value but rather as objects of significant cultural meaning.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
School/Department: School of Social Sciences, History & Philosophy > History, Classics & Archaeology
Depositing User: ORBIT Editor
Date Deposited: 07 Jun 2018 14:44
Last Modified: 07 Jun 2018 14:44
URI: http://bbktheses.da.ulcc.ac.uk/id/eprint/341

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