The New Child: British Art and the Origins of Modern Childhood, 1730-1830 explores the rise of modern ideas of childhood through the lens of 18th- and 19th-century British art. A time of extraordinary change, this period emerges as one in which childhood first came to be valued as a special and distinct phase of human life. This revolution is fully reflected in the visual arts of the period, one in which British art must be seen as taking a leading role. Through the work of leading artists such as William Hogarth, Joshua Reynolds, Thomas Gainsborough, William Blake, and Thomas Lawrence, The New Child examines the complex relationship between the visual arts and social values, a relationship in whch artists both helped shape and mirrored social change.
Richly illustrated, The New Child breaks new ground in using social history to enlarge our understanding of the visual arts, and in combining works of high art and popular culture in the same study. The visual material forms part of a rich tapestry of documents from the Georgian period - including literature, letters, and diaries - that collectively allow us to look at the construct we call "childhood" and the lived experience of real children in new ways.