Printing a Child’s World at the Met Museum, The Summer of Hamilton at New York Historical Society and Roz Chast at Museum of the City of New York
"As a girl reads Goldilocks and the Three Bears to two little boys tucked in bed, her menacing shadow and their wide eyes suggest that she is recounting the story’s most frightening moment. At this time, fairy tales were appreciated for their moral content, and Goldilocks, in particular, for warning children not to wander off on their own. Later interpreters have construed the tale as signaling a girl's search for identity as she approaches womanhood. Guy's female subject creates a sense of foreboding even as she exudes calm, foretelling her future success as a mother. Her doll is stashed in the box on the chair, implying that she is ready to put away childhood games and assume an adult role." Story of Golden Locks; Seymour Joseph Guy (1824–1910)
|Location:||The Met Fifth Avenue, The American Wing, Mezzanine, Gallery 773,
The Henry R. Luce Center for the Study of American Art
Printed works for or about children are the focus of the installation Printing a Child's World, which opened May 27 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. More than two dozen works from the late 19th and early 20th centuries — primarily children’s books, illustrations, and prints by artists including Randolph Caldecott (for whom the annual award for best children's illustration is named), George Bellows, Winslow Homer, and Thomas Nast — are being shown. They are rarely displayed because of their sensitivity to light. In addition to works from The Met collection, there are a dozen loans from a private collection and the New-York Historical Society*.
Among the highlights on view are nine original watercolors by Caldecott (1887) for the children's book The House That Jack Built; the familiar illustration of Santa Claus by Nast from A Visit from Saint Nicholas (1872); and one of Homer’s earliest illustrations, which was made for Eventful History of Three Blind Mice (1858).
In America at the turn of the 20th century, advertisers understood the enormous appeal of art tailored to a burgeoning commercial marketplace centered on childhood. Illustrators such as Caldecott and Nast, celebrated for their technical skill and visual ingenuity, produced numerous works specifically for this audience. The broad dissemination of illustrations and advertisements secured a legacy for printmakers in both the commercial arena and the fine arts.
Children’s pastimes were also a popular theme in paintings of the period. Three examples from The Met collection are included in the installation. An intimate bedtime-story scene, children anticipating the arrival of a circus, and a thoughtful young ballplayer are depicted in Seymour Joseph Guy's Story of Golden Locks (around 1870); Charles Caleb Ward's Coming Events Cast Their Shadows Before (1871); and George Luks's Boy with Baseball (around 1925), respectively. A recently donated Parian porcelain statuette, Catcher (ca. 1875-76), designed by Isaac Broome and manufactured by Ott and Brewer, anchors the installation while complementing the nearby display of baseball cards from the popular Jefferson R. Burdick Collection, which is held by the Museum's Department of Drawings and Prints.
Organized by Jane Dini, Associate Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture in the American Wing, Printing a Child’s World inaugurates a redesigned display area in the Henry R. Luce Center for the Study of American Art.
The installation will be listed on The Met website, as well as on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter via the hashtag #PrintingaChildsWorld.
*The Summer of Hamilton:
Back By Popular Demand
Believe it or not, in 2004 the New York Historical Society and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History presented Alexander Hamilton: The Man Who Made Modern America. (It was a landmark exhibit, but you could, in fact, get in — and it didn’t cost several Benjamins.)
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