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Imagining Childhood

Erika Langmuir


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The images of children that abound in Western art do not simply mirror reality; they are imaginative constructs, representing childhood as a special stage of human life, or emblematic of the human condition itself. In a compelling book ranging widely across time, national boundaries, and genres from ancient Egyptian amulets to Picasso’s Guernica, Erika Langmuir demonstrates that no historic period has a monopoly on the ‘discovery of childhood’. Famous pictures by great artists, as well as barely known anonymous artefacts, illustrate not only Western society’s perennially ambivalent attitudes to children, but also the many and varied functions that works of art have played throughout its history.

Yale University Press, 9780300101317, 256pp.

Publication Date: December 12, 2006

About the Author

Erika Langmuir was formerly head of education at the National Gallery, London; she taught at the University of Sussex and was professor of art history at the Open University. She is the author of the National Gallery Companion Guide and several titles from the best-selling National Gallery Pocket Guides series, as well as co-author of the Yale Dictionary of Art and Artists, all published by Yale University Press.