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Thomas Gainsborough Artist's Daughters with a Butterfly
Thomas Gainsborough Artist's Daughters with a Butterfly c.1756 The National Gallery, London

Internal News - 30 March 2005

New art exhibition at the Holburne, free to staff and students

Pictures of Innocence, the new exhibition at the Holburne Museum of Art in Bath, displays portraits of children from Hogarth to Lawrence. The exhibition, free to all University staff and students, runs from 22 March to 19 June 2005.

Until 250 years ago, portraits of children were a rarity, but from the time of William Hogarth (1697-1764), British art was launched into a baby boom. Artists and their patrons came to see children in a new light, not as undersized adults or the scions of mighty dynasties, but as individuals with their own personalities and a unique and fragile beauty.

Hogarth livened up his politely formal group portraits with mischievous youngsters, and painted brothers and sisters surrounded by symbols of transience and the passing of time. Zoffany delighted George III and Queen Charlotte with his jolly depictions of their toddlers, while Gainsborough made careful studies of his growing daughters. Reynolds perfected the art of capturing the family on canvas, retaining the children’s personality but losing none of their charm, while Lawrence delighted parents and the public with his romantic view of childhood.