Friday, 19 June 2009

The Portrayal of Children in Antique Textiles from the late 1700s to the early 20th century

I thought I would have a look at a few different images of children in textiles through the years. The child immediately above is so absorbed in blowing soap bubbles, her concentration is palpable, while the children behind play in a really natural and joyous way (c1790). Other textiles show mythical or fairytale scenes, and the children are portrayed less relistically and more dramatically as their prescence helps with the unfolding of a story (pink toile c1815, and sleeping beauty toile c1920-40). The loving bond and relationship between mother and child is shown with real sensitivity in the red toile above (third and fourth picture down from the top, c1790), as the toddler gazes at his mother in a way that all mums will recognise instantly! Often pets are included with the children (c1830-50), as they are portrayed in a domestic setting, often with a certain amount of sentimentality.

I love all these textiles, and have really enjoyed putting the pictures together for this post. Each textile is very much 'of its time', giving so many clues and hints about the culture of the period: the status of person that the textile was intended for can be often be revealed in the subject matter, for example the pink mythical toile above was an upholstery fabric for quite a wealthy family, the subject matter suitably uplifting, educational and of course, beautiful. The textile's use can be sometimes be seen from the subject matter, the 20th century Sleeping Beauty toile was most likely used for children's curtains of bedding, this also gives a clue about the rising power and influence of the child as a consumer!

Please click on each photo to see the supersize pics in detail. Have a lovely weekend everybody!


  1. they are all so lovely-thank you for sharing!

  2. You are very welcome Mavis, I adore all these images. xx