Imagining Childhood


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Erika Langmuir

View Inside Format: Cloth
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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.

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.

"Like all Yale University Pres books, Imagining Childhood is a beautiful object with thick waxy pages from which its reproductions glimmer and shine.The pictures are so numerous and the book so well designed that in a sense we do not need the text to make the point, but then we wouldn't be told what we were looking at in that calm and comforting parental voice."---Frances Wilson, Literary Review

"This is an erudite book, but Langmuir wears her learning lightly... the book's great strength is that it established both the difficult relationship between imagery and real life and the centrality of pictured children to debates on the human condition."---Marcia Pointon, Times Higher Education Suupplement 

Imagining Childhood, with its wealth of insights and material, establishes a rewarding category for investigation.” - Catherine Reynolds, Burlington Magazine
ISBN: 9780300101317
Publication Date: December 12, 2006
256 pages, 7 1/2 x 9 1/2
45 b/w + 120 color illus.

The National Gallery Companion Guide

Revised and Expanded Edition

Erika Langmuir

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