These artists are primarily important to HBC because of the portraits they have left us contemporaty children. Some information is also available on how they or their children were dressed. We have collected information on quite a number of individual artists from many different countries.
Some of the most reliable information on boys fashions in the years before photography (mid-19th Century) was developed were paintings and drawings. Even after the commercial development of photography in the 1840s, it is paintings that provide details on color as well as settings in context that provide valuable insights into fashions and how they were worn. Photography until the turn of the 20th Century was generally limited to a photographer's studio and it was not until the 1950s that color photographs become widely available.
Many artists specialized in portrait paintings which was the most lucrative form of painting. Artists like every one else had to be worried about making a living. After the Renaisance when art was no longer dominated by the Church, almost all of the great masters either specialized in portraits or used portrait painting to fimance their other work. The images that emerged provide fascinating details on the fashions of the day. While the paintings are not nearly as numerous as photographs, they offer one great advantage in that they provide historical information on the color of the garments worn. In addition, there is often considerable background information available on the dates and even the individuals involved.
Some of the most important artists providing information on boys' fashions in different countries include:
It is interesting to look at how artists (actors, artists, musicians, and dancers) dressed their children. Of course many artists themselves came from artistic families. Parents from such families often dressed their children differently than the average family, varying from the fashion conventions of the day. This seems to have been the case in the 19th and early 20th century, but seems less true today. Artists seem more willing to be different, even excentric. We note examples like the children of Sarah Bernhart, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Frances Hodgseon Burnett, Isadora Duncan, Renoir, and many others. We see a similqr trend with how child prodigies were dressed. A reader writes, "I have a picture of Alma Mahler, wife of Gustav Mahler, the great Austrian composer, taken in 1890 when she was 10 years old. In looking at her, we are surprised to find her dressed like a
girl in 1920. She is wearing a short dress and what seems brown ribbed stockings."
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